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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Microtopia does not necessarily mean a small utopia. As Naeem Inayatullah has pointed out, the “u” has been removed, causing the meaning to actually translate to a representation of space.
“Microtpoias stands for creating social relations in local spaces, that’s how I translate it,” said Naeem.
Naeem argues this can be translated further, expanding the theme in three different ways regarding the Buffalo Street Books reading of "I, IR: International Microtopias" with Naeem and Sorayya Khan at 3 p.m. today. He says the event itself is free, buffalo street books acting as a microtopia. Then there is the book itself, which created the local space/atmosphere for collaboration. It is a set of essays built around group who wanted not to write academic essays but with an academic background.
He said we are “bound by a logic in which we access each other as things with costs, with benefits.” He went on to say human beings resist this by creating a social life and social relations, refusing to treat each other as just commodities. The book’s purpose is to explore these personal social relationships and to discuss their actual lives, which seems so much richer and more important to talk about then the theoretical work that seems to be constantly in our everyday dialogue.
“Its not just a book. It’s a relationship between 17 people who are trying to say similar but slightly different things but similar things and all of them can be seen as a conversation around this microtopia of the book,” said Naeem.
Lastly, the relationship between both readers at this event, Naeem and his wife, will create a space that will revolve around their family life.
It is these local social relationships and ties that make FLEFF so special.
“The most important part of FLEFF is not necessarily the formal event—although those are important, the films, the presentations, because a lot of work and energy goes into those—but what’s important, what I would try to look forward to are the conversations that occur after the event or before the event or alongside the event,” said Naeem. “Its the social connections through conversations that are most exciting and most important.”
Who are you looking most forward to meeting and talking to? How will you participate in your “local space”?
Monday, February 20, 2012
In every academic paper I have written, I am always told to define my terms. But with a term as complex as microtopias, declaring a definition becomes daunting. The meaning of the complex concept of microtopias depends on personal perspective. But the same is true when defining utopias in general because perfection or the characteristics of a perfect society differs from person to person. So here are my terms.
A utopia is an ideal, perfect society. We imagine this society without limits or constraints, reminding me of the inspirational quote, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” For me, that means creating a sustainable community with a systems thinking mindset that utilizes nonviolent communication.
That being said, I define microtopias as a society that recognizes one cannot create a utopia for the entire world. Instead we strive to bring this concept to the little piece of world surrounding us. What makes up my entire world may not even be on someone else’s radar. It doesn’t make it any less important; it just makes it mine. Through this concept we localize, which is a vital characteristic to my utopian sustainable society that I defined above.
FLEFF itself can be defined as its own microtopian society. It’s here. It builds community. It sparks conversation about limitless solutions to local struggles.
How do you define microtopias? Is it possible to turn ideal into actuality? What would you do if you knew you could not fail?