Postcatastrophic utopias

Beck, J. and Dorrian, M. 2014. Postcatastrophic utopias. Cultural Politics. 10 (2), pp. 132-150.

TitlePostcatastrophic utopias
AuthorsBeck, J. and Dorrian, M.
Abstract

Space colonisation and subterranean dwelling have been staples of speculative fiction since at least the nineteenth century, but the invention of nuclear weapons and the prospect of global environmental collapse have, certainly since the Cold War, made proposals offering vertical escape from the surface of the planet a matter worthy of serious consideration among engineers, planners, military strategists, and countercultural futurologists. The shift in the conception of utopia, from the lateral displacements typical

of its classical formations to the vertical modes of descent and

ascent considered in this article, suggests a structural relationship between utopia and catastrophe produced out of the new conditions

of global threat inaugurated by atomic weapons. While the prospect

of impending global catastrophe would appear to lead to a dystopian

or even fatalistic acceptance of the limits of human life on Earth, the most devastating assessments of humanity’s future have also produced utopian proposals for the reimagining of human potentiality below

and above the surface of the planet. In a real sense, then, catastrophe has become the precondition for the establishment of utopia, both as the compelling threat that demands a plausible response to impending annihilation and as the necessary event that apocalyptically clears the ground for new modes of living.

JournalCultural Politics
Journal citation10 (2), pp. 132-150
ISSN1743-2197
Year2014
PublisherDuke University Press
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1215/17432197-2651729
Web address (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/17432197-2651738
Publication dates
Published2014

Related outputs

The Time Capsule and the Cut Up: Negotiating Temporality, Anticipating Catastrophe
Beck, J. and Dorrian, M. 2018. The Time Capsule and the Cut Up: Negotiating Temporality, Anticipating Catastrophe. Theory, Culture & Society.

The Return of the Art and Technology Lab
Beck, J. and Bishop, R. 2018. The Return of the Art and Technology Lab. Cultural Politics. 14 (2), pp. 225-243.

Utah and the Times: Governing Temporality in Deseret
Beck, J. 2017. Utah and the Times: Governing Temporality in Deseret. in: Lübecker, N. and Rugo, D. (ed.) James Benning's Environments: Politics, Ecology, Duration Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press. pp. 39-54

Overt Research
White, N. and Beck, J. 2016. Overt Research. in: Beck, J. and Bishop, R. (ed.) Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press. pp. 252-272

The Future: RAND, Brand and Dangerous to Know
Beck, J. 2016. The Future: RAND, Brand and Dangerous to Know. in: Beck, J. and Bishop, R. (ed.) Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press. pp. 35-49

Introduction: The Long Cold War
Beck, J. and Bishop, R. 2016. Introduction: The Long Cold War. in: Beck, J. and Bishop, R. (ed.) Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press. pp. 1-32

Introduction: Photography and Abstraction
Beck, J. and Cunningham, D.I. 2016. Introduction: Photography and Abstraction. Photographies. 9 (2), pp. 129-133.

High Formalism: The aerial view and the colour field
Beck, J. 2016. High Formalism: The aerial view and the colour field. Photographies. 9 (2), pp. 187-201.

A Military Definition of Reality: Researching Literature and Militarization
Beck, J. 2016. A Military Definition of Reality: Researching Literature and Militarization. in: Williams, A.J., Jenkings, A., Woodward, R. and Rech, M.F. (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Military Research Methods Abingdon Routledge. pp. 84-94

The Call of the Anthropocene
Beck, J. 2014. The Call of the Anthropocene. Cultural Politics. 10 (3), pp. 404-414.

The Art School and the Culture Shed
Beck, J. and Cornford, M. 2014. The Art School and the Culture Shed. Kingston upon Thames Centre for Useless Splendour.

The purloined landscape: photography and power in the American West
Beck, J. 2014. The purloined landscape: photography and power in the American West. Tate Papers. 21.

Strangers to the stars: abstraction, aereality, aspect perception
Beck, J. 2013. Strangers to the stars: abstraction, aereality, aspect perception. in: Armitage, J. and Bishop, R. (ed.) Virilio and visual culture Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press. pp. 46-68

Beyond the darkness of the just lived moment
Beck, J. 2013. Beyond the darkness of the just lived moment. in: Makhoul, B. (ed.) Palestinian video art: constellation of the moving image Jerusalem Al Hoash. pp. 156-169

Between the castle and the village
Beck, J. 2013. Between the castle and the village. in: Bishop, R. and Hon, G. (ed.) Bashir Makhoul, Aissa Deebi: otherwise occupied Jerusalem Al Hoash. pp. 150-165

The art school in ruins
Beck, J. and Cornford, M. 2012. The art school in ruins. Journal of Visual Culture. 11 (1), pp. 58-83.

In and out of the box: Bashir Makhoul’s Forbidden City
Beck, J. 2012. In and out of the box: Bashir Makhoul’s Forbidden City. Theory, Culture and Society. 29 (7-8), pp. 341-357.

The place of catastrophe: Clarence King, Mike Davis and the politics of contingency
Beck, J. 2011. The place of catastrophe: Clarence King, Mike Davis and the politics of contingency. in: Wragg, D.A. and Heffernan, N. (ed.) Culture, environment and eco-politics Newcastle Upon Tyne Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 84-110

Signs of the sky, signs of the times: photography as double agent
Beck, J. 2011. Signs of the sky, signs of the times: photography as double agent. Theory, Culture and Society. 28 (7-8), pp. 123-139.

Concrete ambivalence: inside the bunker complex
Beck, J. 2011. Concrete ambivalence: inside the bunker complex. Cultural Politics. 7 (1), pp. 79-102.

Et in Arizona ego: Baudrillard on the Planet of the Apes
Beck, J. 2009. Et in Arizona ego: Baudrillard on the Planet of the Apes. in: Bishop, R. (ed.) Baudrillard now: current perspectives in Baudrillard studies Cambridge Polity. pp. 100-115

Dirty wars: landscape, power, and waste in Western American literature
Beck, J. 2009. Dirty wars: landscape, power, and waste in Western American literature. Lincoln University of Nebraska Press.

Critical architecture
Rendell, J., Hillam, J., Dorrian, M. and Fraser, M. Rendell, J., Hill, J., Dorrian, M. and Fraser, M. (ed.) 2007. Critical architecture. London, UK Routledge.

Velocities of power
Beck, J. and Crosthwaite, P. 2007. Velocities of power. Cultural Politics. 3 (1), pp. 23-34.

Resistance becomes ballistic: Vanishing Point and the end of the road
Beck, J. 2007. Resistance becomes ballistic: Vanishing Point and the end of the road. Cultural Politics. 3 (1), pp. 35-50.

Zapruder, Warhol, and the accident of images
Beck, J. 2005. Zapruder, Warhol, and the accident of images. in: Holloway, D. and Beck, J. (ed.) American visual cultures London Continuum. pp. 183-189

Reading room: erosion and sedimentation in Sebald's Suffolk
Beck, J. 2004. Reading room: erosion and sedimentation in Sebald's Suffolk. in: Long, J.J. and Whitehead, A. (ed.) W.G. Sebald: a critical companion Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press. pp. 75-88

Writing the radical center: William Carlos Williams, John Dewey, and American cultural politics
Beck, J. 2001. Writing the radical center: William Carlos Williams, John Dewey, and American cultural politics. Albany State University of New York Press.

Without form and void: the American desert as trope and terrain
Beck, J. 2001. Without form and void: the American desert as trope and terrain. Nepantla: views from South. 2 (1), pp. 63-83.

An over-illuminated world: Reyner Banham and art history in the wilderness
Beck, J. 2000. An over-illuminated world: Reyner Banham and art history in the wilderness. Everything. 3, pp. 26-33.

‘A certain but fugitive testimony': witnessing the light of time in Cormac McCarthy's Southwestern fiction
Beck, J. 2000. ‘A certain but fugitive testimony': witnessing the light of time in Cormac McCarthy's Southwestern fiction. in: Wallach, R. (ed.) Myth, legend, dust: critical responses to Cormac McCarthy Manchester Manchester University Press. pp. 209-216

Blown away: wars visible and invisible in Richard Misrach’s Desert Cantos
Beck, J. 2000. Blown away: wars visible and invisible in Richard Misrach’s Desert Cantos. European Journal of American Culture. 19 (3), pp. 156-166.

Buckminster Fuller and the politics of shelter
Beck, J. 1999. Buckminster Fuller and the politics of shelter. in: Hughes, J. and Sadler, S. (ed.) Non-plan: essays on freedom, participation and change in modern architecture and urbanism Oxford Architectural Press. pp. 116-125

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/8y9z1/postcatastrophic-utopias


Share this
Tweet
Email