Necessary Utopias

Program designed and coordinated by Enrico Donaggio, philosopher, university professor, scientific director of IMERA (Aix Marseille University’s Institute for Advanced Study)

The Necessary Utopias program welcomes scientists from all disciplines, artists and social actors, thinkers and / or makers in the broadest sense of the term. During a period of ten months, they take part in the intellectual community of the Institute for Advanced Study of Aix Marseille University (IMERA) and of the rich ecosystem of institutes and labs of Aix-Marseille University (AMU). The program residents must indeed have demonstrated remarkable skills and / or abilities in their field of research, creation and action. The main purpose of their stay and their work is not, however, exclusively academic. Indeed, they aim to fill a gap in the dominant configuration of a given scientific or artistic sector. But, they are also modestly driven by the riskier ambition of confronting "necessary utopias", objects that outstrip the commonly self-referential perimeter of ordinary university research, thus in the direction of the social engagement of knowledge.

At the core of the program resides a constellation of themes - which have become in the last decade rather mandatory, or even classic, for many Institutes for Advanced Study. Of those themes: interdisciplinary research on global phenomena and challenges, as well as on creativity and innovation, all in the horizon of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The recent pandemic has revealed more clearly the urgency as well as the importance and complexity of such topics. The need for this dedicated program has therefore become even more legitimate particularly in a favorable setting like IMERA’s.

The obviousness which characterizes major and inescapable issues of our time confronts today, in an almost paralyzing manner, the difficulties of tackling them. However, there is still great hope for finding viable and liveable solutions for the world today and for generations to come. This gap between knowledge, expectations and behaviours makes it necessary to consider these issues, in their theoretical dimensions as well as in their practical implications, as necessary utopias. These are global and local challenges, considered by contemporary societies decisive to face, due to their absolute urgency, yet impossible to win, without actually acting and thinking differently.

Through a variety of formats, approaches, time and space horizons, the interdisciplinary research projects of the residents who collaborate to this program offer new ideas and / or new concrete perspectives to face those necessary utopias. The foreseen areas of invention and application are among others and in a non-exclusive manner, as following: the ecological crisis, health, migration, economic and social inequalities, the question of habitat, education, the crisis of political participation.

Another of those necessary utopias - work and its unprecedented perspectives of new freedoms - is at the centre of an IMERA workshop that has been active since 2019 and which falls within the theoretical and practical horizon outlined by this program. Residents are invited to participate in these cycles of exchange sessions, seminars, conferences - which benefit from the presence of the best specialists and local actors - as well as in its research project on the utopias of work in Marseille yesterday and today.

IMéRA's « Necessary Utopies » programme benefits from the collaboration and support of five partners with whom IMéRA offers thematic chairs: AMSE, AUF, EHESS, Fulbright, and IRD.


For more information, please contact Enrico Donaggio, Program Director and Scientific Director of IMERA: enrico.DONAGGIO@univ-amu.fr