More than 150 people from around the world gather at the URV to discuss utopia from various academic perspectives

“In search of new harmonies” is the slogan of the 19th international conference of the Utopian Studies Society-Europe which was organised for the third time by the University

An image from the inaugural event at the international conference in the Auditorium. From left to right: Juan Pro (UAM), John Style (Vice-Rector of Internationalisation of the URV), Gregory Claeys (University of London) and Pere Gallardo (URV).

150 people from more than 20 countries and in disciplines as diverse as architecture, economics, music, cinema and literature gathered at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili to discuss and reflect on the theme of utopia. This 19th edition of the conference clearly hints at the universe of possibilities ahead despite these being times when political and social circumstances are making it harder to achieve new harmonies.

The international conference has been organised by the URV’s Department of English and German Studies in collaboration with the Histopia project of the Autonomous University of Madrid. The URV professor, Pere Gallardo, is one of the organisers and said that during the four days of the conference there were talks and presentations on utopia by people from all sorts of background, all of whom focused on the question “how can we use all of these academic disciplines to help design a perfect society”.

This is the third time that the international conference has been held in Tarragona, the previous occasions being 2006 and 2012 when the themes were, respectively, the start of the crisis and future that was being built. The third edition at the URV will create spaces for sharing ideas and to “highlight our individual singularities whilst seeking ways in which we can live together with respect and knowing in which direction we are heading, what kind of society we want”, according to the organisers.

The conference was inaugurated in the Auditorium of the Rector’s Offices with the Vice-Rector for Internationalisation, John Style, welcoming the attendees and the writer and artist Manjula Padmanabhan giving a plenary lecture. The remaining sessions took place at the Catalunya Campus.

The Utopian Studies Society-Europe is an interdisciplinary society that coordinates and encourages the various research that is being conducted in the field of utopianism. Its members carry out research in literature, philosophy, cinema, sociology, history, architecture, politics, anthropology and other disciplines. There are two utopian studies societies in the world, one in the United States and Canada and another in Europe but which now has members from around the world including India, Iran and America.

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