Author Archives: Stephen Gill

“A Dialectic of Utopia/Dystopia in the Public Imagination of the 21st Century” April 20, 2017

From global-e UC Santa Barbara:

An avenue for characterizing one aspect of the public imagination of today’s world—apparently configured by a rising populism across both the left and particularly the right—is with reference to a recent upsurge of interest in utopian/dystopian thinking. Since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 have resumed prominence in the concerned public imagination and are again top of the bestseller lists. Both works discuss how repressive autocratic/totalitarian elements place subject populations under regimes of total surveillance and propagate “Orwellian” versions of the truth,1 while citizens are palliated by the happy drugs of a somatic culture.2 These dystopian perspectives are contrasted in the conclusion to this piece with my political hypothesis of the “post-modern Prince” with its “feasible utopias” reflected in the imaginaries and collective action of diverse progressive forces.

Utopias have tended to emerge in response to wars, crises, and significant periods of dislocation: in the context of the Peloponnesian Wars, Plato’s The Republic (ca. 380 BC) was premised on creating a good society led by wise elite Guardians. Utopian thought has typically been concerned with concepts of justice, order, the good society, and radical change, often based on common ownership of land/property. Indeed, utopias—and their dialectical other, dystopias—are “ways to interpret the present with an eye to an (imaginary yet positive) future.” A dystopia may be taken as a utopia “that malfunctions” or “only functions for a particular segment of society.” Dystopias “resemble actual societies historically encountered—planned but not planned well enough to be just.”3

These insights seem to capture very well aspects of current imaginaries in US, European, and in some respects world politics.

Continue reading here…

Global Political Economy in the 21st Century: Towards a Critical Research Agenda

New Video from a talk delivered 26 April 2016, at Wills Building, Bristol, and sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Studies/Worldwide Universities Network University of Bristol, and introduced by Professor Paddy Ireland, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law.  

“This lecture is intended to sketch aspects of the interdisciplinary field of global political economy and to make suggestions for a critical pedagogy and research agenda. This will be linked to an effort to conceptualize, outline and interpret some of the constitution, contradictions and governance of actually existing capitalism in the early 21st century, and some of its impacts on politics, society and the integrity of the biosphere. I will argue that a critical, historical perspective on global political economy must be grounded in a comprehensive problématique of our times. I will sketch this problématique by attempting to integrate concepts from ethics, geopolitics, sociology, cultural studies, international and constitutional law as well as political economy to address what I call the geopolitics of capitalist market civilization and a wider global organic crisis.”

PDF of the slides available here

‘EU Trade Policy at the Crossroads’, Vienna 4-6 February 2016

Proceedings from the Vienna Conference on EU Trade Policy has now been published online at the conference website. The conference documentation consists of:

Conference Videos:
Short Conference “Teaser” Video (3 minutes)
Full Conference Video (31 minutes)
Video Opening Event 4.2.2016 (110 minutes), with Stephen Gill, Penny Clarke, John Hilary and Ferdi de Ville.
Video Plenary I, 5.2.2016 (93 minutes) – “The economic effects of new generation FTAs: alternative approaches to impact assessment” with Rudi von Arnim, Frank Ackerman and Sabine Stephan.
Video Plenary II, 5.2.2016 (117 minutes) – “The regulatory agenda of news generation FTAs – Regulatory Convergence or De-Regulation?” with Sheila Jasanoff, Marija Bartl and Jean-Christophe Graz.
Video Plenary III, 6.2.2016 (78 minutes) – “Alternatives and proposals for a more democratic EU Trade Policy” with Alexandra Strickner, Manuel Pérez-Rocha and Christoph Scherrer. See

Interviews with Keynote Speakers (ca. 5 minutes each):
EU Trade Conference 4-6.2.2016, Interview Stephen Gill (York University, Toronto).
EU Trade Conference 4-6.2.2016, Interview Frank Ackerman (Synapse Energy Economics Cambridge/Massachusetts).
EU Trade Conference 4-6.2.2016, Interview Marija Bartl (Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam).
EU Trade Conference 4-6.2.2016, Interview Sheila Jasanoff  (Harvard Kennedy School Cambridge, Massachusetts).
EU Trade Conference 4-6.2.2016, Interview Manuel Pérez-Rocha (Institute for Policy Studies, Washington and Transnational Institute, Amsterdam).

Photo galleries:
Thursday, 4.2.: Public Opening Event
Friday, 5.2.: 1st day of the conference
Saturday, 6.2.: 2nd day of the conference
Powerpoint-presentations and speaking notes of key-note/plenary speakers are available here.