March 31, 2023

NEWS New AHRC Network hosted by CRITIQUE: Fail Again, Fail Better? Recuperating Failure in Utopian Politics and Research

An AHRC Research Network grant entitled Fail Again, Fail Better? Recuperating Failure in Utopian Politics and Research (PI Mathias Thaler, CoI Davina Cooper) will be hosted by CRITIQUE for two years.

The aim of this network and its activities is to re-evaluate the place of failure in utopia – by which we include both utopian fictional narratives, and radical experiments in living and governing. Specifically, we will explore the contribution that failure makes to utopia so that breakdown, rupture, and unachieved goals are not seen only as limits on action, so failure can support utopian thinking and practice rather than undermine it. The network and activities approach the relationship between utopia and failure in three interrelated ways.

(1) Utopian ideas and communities are seen as providing relief and shelter from the competitive dyad of mainstream life, where some people get characterised as failures while others are characterised as successful (or as achievers).

(2) Failure is seen to happen to utopian and radical experiments, when they break down, terminate their activities, or simply fail to achieve their ambition.

(3) failure can be built into organised utopian and radical activities to protect other, more important ends. This can involve creating deliberate fault-lines or ‘crumple zones’; it can also include deliberative and affective processes of self-critique.