As 2012 approaches, so do the many references to the predictions of Nostradamus, Mayan and Gnostic texts that signal the year as one of doom and gloom. Films, novels, art, political and philosophical texts have produced a rich variety of serious documentary and popular visions of apocalypse. Slavoj Žizek, considered to be “the most dangerous philosopher in the West”, writes of the collapse of the capitalist system in his Living In the End of Times (2011, revised edition) and lists the four apocalypse riders as “the ecological crisis, the consequences of the biogenetic revolution, imbalances with the system itself (problems with intellectual property; forthcoming struggles over raw materials, food and water) and the explosive growth of social divisions and exclusions”.

How do we cope with the situation? One way, according to Žizek, is by denying that it exists, another is by becoming very angry at all the injustices in the world and a third is an attempt to negotiate (“if we change things here and there, life could perhaps go on as before”). However, if the negotiation fails then there is the possibility of depression and withdrawal taking its place. When this stage is reached, then the threat might turn into hope. Hope for a new beginning.  Shapes of utopia, in other words.

This conference, which will take place approximately 6 months before Nostradamus’ fateful December will welcome all imaginary shapes of ends and endings but will also look beyond December 2012 for visions of hope – on the premise, of course, that life (as we have known it) will go on.

While we particularly welcome proposals relating to this theme, papers on any other aspect of the utopian tradition as it manifests itself in literature, art, philosophy, politics, economics and society are welcome.

Please submit proposals for:

a) individual 20-minute presentations and  b) roundtables on a special theme. The conference language is English. Sessions conducted in other languages are also possible (minimum 2 papers).

Abstracts (approx. 250 words) should be submitted by e-mail as file attachments in MS WORD (no docx please) to both and These should include: 1) name and affiliation, 2) e-mail address, 3) title of paper, 4) abstract, 5) three keywords, 6) multimedia requirements, 7) any conference schedule restrictions.

You may use this Abstract form.doc to prepare your abstract. Here are some  important dates you may wish to remember.


13th International Conference


Tarragona, 4th-7th July 2012

The shape of things to come...

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