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Weirding Utopia for the Anthropocene: Hope, Un/Home and the Uncanny in Annihilation and The City We Became

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Lisa Garforth, Dr Miranda IossifidisORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


In this paper we argue that Anthropocene conditions call for and are already calling forth weird utopias. The Anthropocene speaks to a fundamental geological shift as humans become the dominant influence on global ecological systems. It also speaks to major cultural transformations as individuals and societies struggle to make sense of living on a new planet. In this context green utopianism cannot speak through projections of a holistically good society into the future, or with reference to ethical and political traditions from what has gone before. It must instead work with and through the end of the world. Only a thoroughly weirded utopianism can help us to understand how our transformed reality might be survivable, and how we can continue to identify and express desires for a better way of living with and in it. Much contemporary utopian theory rejects conventional associations between utopia and happiness or resolution, instead emphasising its disruptive functions and potential to generate estrangement and disquiet. Here we push those strands of utopian theory further to explore expressions of utopian desire in two recent examples of the new weird in speculative fiction: Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation, and N. K. Jemisin's The City We Became. Drawing on the work of Peter Kraftl and Susan McManus, we also open up a wider discussion of how ideas of the weird, the uncanny and the unhomely can enrich debates in utopian studies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Garforth L, Iossifidis M

Publication type: Online Publication

Publication status: Published

Series Title: Pulse: the Journal of Science and Culture

Year: 2021

Access Year: 7

Description: 1-24

Online publication date: 15/04/2021

Acceptance date: 18/12/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2416-111X

Publisher: Central European University

Access Date: 1

Type of Medium: Research article


Notes: Please note the full pre publication revised manuscript from Dec 2020 was uploaded for OA on 21 12 20. The journal is in any case open access.