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  • Utopia and Utopianism: Utopian Studies Journal, No. 2
  • Márcia Lemos
Alex-Alban Gómez Coutouly , dir. Utopia and Utopianism: Utopian Studies Journal, No. 2. Madrid: University Book, 2007. 200 pp. Paperback, €23.92 (US$31.20, £15.60), ISSN: 1886-4120.

The second number of Utopia and Utopianism, a scholarly journal on utopian studies directed by Alex-Alban Gómez Coutouly, brings together seventeen critical essays by researchers working in a wide range of institutional and disciplinary contexts. Written either in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish, all these essays investigate the presence of utopia in different thinkers, texts, and times. Together they provide useful clues and valuable information for further research on a myriad of topics and writers connected with utopia and utopian thought.

In the opening essay, Ana Martins examines the similarities between the internal organization and architecture of monasteries and the utopian quest for the ideal city. Taking the Order of the Cistercians as an example of a materialized utopian project of a sort, intimately connected with the wish to reach God, Martins concludes that both the monastery and the ideal city can be seen as alternatives to the established order. [End Page 190]

In his brief but stimulating essay, Pablo Jarauta Bernal discusses the importance of Abraham Ortelius's re-creation of the map of Utopia. In Bernal's words, utopia is a "game of spaces" (26) and one in which the players become intertwined with History. Thus, Ortelius's cartographic exercise offers a personal representation of More's emblematical island precisely by merging Geography and History together.

The absence of literary utopias in France during the French Revolution is refuted by Anne-Rozen Morel-Daryani, whose research has led her to identify more than forty texts, written between 1789 and 1804, that may be read as utopian fictions. The author's thesis is that the majority of these texts fall under two categories: "egalitarian utopias" and "liberal utopias" (30).

Jorge Bastos da Silva deconstructs the theory built by some Portuguese scholars that there are no Portuguese utopias by presenting numerous examples of chapbook utopias, either Portuguese or translated into Portuguese, dating from the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. According to the author, these Portuguese chapbooks "suggest the existence of a hitherto neglected contribution to the international utopian tradition" (47).

Charles Fourier is the subject of Yves Wahl's essay. Wahl revisits Fourier's texts and ideas on work, religion, education, family, sexuality, etc. to demonstrate that he was a true visionary who, contrary to other utopian thinkers, tried to adapt society to humanity, and not the other way round.

Étienne Cabet and his political thought are the concern of Franca Nalis's essay. Nalis relates Cabet's belief that social perfection could only be achieved by taking the values of equality and fraternity as the basis of society with the construction of his Icarian Community in the United States.

Annette Magid examines the influences of childhood, family, and place of birth in Bellamy's political thought and literary writings. Indeed, Magid concludes that Looking Backward, Bellamy's utopian novel, is deeply shaped by the writer's "upbringing, his education and his individual philosophies" (82).

Naobumi Hijikat's essay focuses on Robert Owen and his plans for an ideal community. Hijikat argues that Owen's ideals and utopian plans often ended up in the realm of dystopia due not only to "Owen's paternalistic ideas" but mostly to "the attitudes of the Owenites towards the leader" (93).

Issues of nationalism, regionalism, anti-imperialism, and fascism are picked up by Nicolas Lebourg's analysis of Europe's sociopolitical context between 1941 and 2001. Lebourg explains, moreover, how the quest for a [End Page 191] European identity and the desire to build a unified Europe turned a utopian project, progressively, into a dystopia.

David Maudin discusses the presence of utopian values in contemporary systems of exchange such as the Canadian Local Exchange Trading Systems and the French Systèmes d'Échanges Locaux, presenting them as ways to challenge the ongoing globalization of economy and the growth of individualism. Analyses of the relation between postmodernity and utopian thought and ideology are taken up in Vicente Mar...


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