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Envisioning Real Utopias

This project seeks to create a space rarely offered in academia: Through symposia and workshops, we bring together academics and graduate students from across the social sciences and beyond to propose detailed visions of alternative social arrangements geared at increasing human flourishing.

Envisioning Real Utopias, a pioneering perspective proposed by the late Erik Olin Wright , calls for more than the description of social reality, the evaluation of public policy, or the abstract description of alternative social arrangements. It seeks to develop policy blueprints that enumerate in detail the costs, benefits, and overall consequences of transformative economic, political, and social arrangements.


Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop

Project Members: Asher Dvis-Djerassi & Davis Daumler

In a first symposium on “Envisioning Wealth Redistribution,” we will bring together scholars from a variety of social science disciplines – social work, sociology, economics – to debate visions capable of transformative change as they relate to wealth inequality, class, and race in America, such as stakeholder grants, wealth and inheritance taxation, and reparations.

U-M Arts Initiative

Project Members: Fabian Pfeffer & Kathy Velikov

This pilot project will demonstrate the promise of a new form of creative collaboration between the arts and the social sciences to address some of today’s urgent societal problems, in particular those stemming from extreme social inequality. The project seeks to combine the creative potential for envisioning alternatives found in the arts with the critical analysis of the status quo found in the social sciences. During the pilot phase of the project, we will focus on one concrete societal problem: inequality in housing and wealth, with an emphasis on racial injustice.

We will use the pedagogical tools of the arts to collaboratively create emancipatory visions of alternative housing arrangements and wealth distribution mechanisms. In collaboration with faculty and students from across the arts, architecture, and social sciences, we will produce one video documentary for each topic to present a particular Real Utopian proposal. These videos will become creative artifacts that not only support but co-create the vision of an alternative and bold egalitarian arrangement. The second phase of the project is a public virtual workshop. This online workshop will be geared at debating, critiquing, and expanding the proposed Real Utopia provided in the video documentaries.

CID Team Members:

Asher Dvir-Djerassi
Davis Daumler
Fabian Pfeffer
Kathy Velikov

Research Areas:


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