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U-M Arts Initiative Signature


Envisioning Real Utopias

Principal Investigators

Fabian Pfeffer

LSA Sociology

Kathy Velikov

Taubman College


Institute for Social Research

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.

Lead investigators Pfeffer and Velikov 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, they 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.

More information can be found here.