Utopia and Performance

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Sensuous Governing Sensuous City by Sisters Hope. Photo. Photo: Diana Lindhardt.

Registration and fees

Registration is open.

Conference Rationale

Association of Nordic Theatre Scholars
Stockholm, 30 September to 2 October 2021

It is nothing like a dream to create the future. Utopia today, flesh and blood tomorrow.
(Victor Hugo)

Utopia is not a kind of free imagination. Utopia is a matter of the innermost urgency. You are forced to imagine it, it is the only way out, and this is what we need today.
(Slavoj Žižek)

The utopia for which I yearn takes place now, in the interstices of present interactions, in glancing moments of possibly better ways to be together as human beings.
(Jill Dolan)

These quotes represent the main accesses to the concept of utopia that are relevant to both performance practices and critical discourse. While Hugo points to an imaginary future, a vision that will be materialized soon, Žižek argues from the point of view of crisis. And Dolan adds aspects of communality to the idea of utopia. Theatre and performance engage in proposing such utopian visions as a remedy, as a critical stance in times of crisis, as an imaginary flight from straight realisms, as practiced performativities potentially materializing different futures. For the 2021 ANTS conference we invite contributions which investigate all utopian aspects that demonstrate the relevance and also the urge to practice, discuss, rethink and envision theatre and performance in manifold ways. The Theatre and Dance Department at Stockholm University celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2021. With the proposed theme, we also celebrate the Utopian spirit of its foundation and its future.

The term ‘utopia’ was coined and mainstreamed through the reception of Thomas More’s 1516 book Utopia in which he proposes a utopian concept of an ideal society located on a fictional remote island, and in this way, he disguises his critique of the English society of his time. In his book, More provides an etymology of the term deriving from the Greek u-topia, which means ‘non-place’. English pronunciation relates it to another Greek term, eu-topia, the ‘good place’. This has led to a general understanding of ‘utopia’ as a positive imaginary space in contrast to ‘dystopia’ as a disastrous setting, whereas the original meaning involves no judgement on the quality of the utopia. With the Enlightenment’s deliberate striving for the betterment of society, utopianism became associated with revolutionary thinking: Utopia was simultaneously located at the dawn of humanity and in the foreseeable future, almost within reach. Continue reading the Conference Rationale -->

Deadline for submission was 20th April, 2021.

Full Call for papers

Keynote speakers and Invited Artists

  • Sean Metzger (University of California, LA)
  • Susanne Foellmer (Coventry University)
  • Willmar Sauter (Stockholm University)
  • Linn Hilda Lamberg (Stockholm)
  • Gry Worre Hallberg (Copenhagen)

View the keynotes on live stream!
The keynotes and the panel discussion on “Utopia!” will be streamed live via Zoom. To join the webinars please click on the Zoom link of the specific event.

Opening Keynote Willmar Sauter, 30 Sept

Keynote Sean Metzger, 1 Oct

Panel Discussion with artists, 1 Oct

Keynote Susanne Foellmer, 2 Oct


Conference Programme

Utopia and Performance, 30 September – 2 October 2021.

Social Programme

Welcome reception, lunches, and performances.


The conference is organized by Theatre studies at Stockholm University, the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, together with the Association of Nordic Theatre Scholars (ANTS).
Contact us:  ANTS21@teater.su.se

Conference coordination: Meike Wagner and Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen.

Organizing team

Rikard Hoogland, Dirk Gindt, Tiina Rosenberg, Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen, Magnus Tessing Schneider, Meike Wagner, Julia Stina Skoglund.


  • Stockholm University and the Department of Culture and Aesthetics in Autumn. Photo: Sören Andersson, Stockholm University. Covid-19 2021-06-24 We abide by the restrictions and recommendations by the Swedish Health Authorities.