Radical Utopian Communities

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Radical Utopian Communities investigates communes in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Despite their different locales, they articulated a similar critique of capitalism, colonialism and imperialism, and they shared a historical consciousness in building a better world practiced in small-scale communities that were both sanctuary and laboratory in a mission to save humanity at large.

This project approaches radical utopian communities from global history perspectives. It assembles young scholars working on different case studies of radical utopian communities in Asian, African, American, and European countries in the first half of the twentieth century. In particular, they work on communes and networks in and between China, Jamaica, Japan, Spain, Brazil, South Africa, and the United States, and with a special interest in the history of anarchism and anarchist community building. Methodologically, theproject combines historical research with approaches as developed in anthropology, cultural, literary and religious studies, philosophy and social sciences.

The project considers radical utopian communities not only as niches of alternative lifestyles, but also as hubs for the contact, collision and conjunction of people and knowledge. It aims at contributing to narratives of a decentered, non-Eurocentric history of the twentieth century from the margins by acknowledging the significance of communal life in the making of the modern world. A global history analysis of radical utopian communities explores past visions of a better future, elaborates the significance and boundaries of space, mobility and subjectivity in the modern world, and thus investigates fundamental questions of everyday human experience and existence.

Funding and Location

Radical Utopian Communities is funded by the VolkswagenStiftung and their Freigeist-Fellowship program. The initial funding period is from January 2020 to December 2024. The project and the research team members are based at LMU Munich's School of History (Historisches Seminar), and closely affiliated with the Munich Centre for Global History.

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