Imagining radically different futures: The Dialectic of Sex and feminist utopias today

International Symposium
// in Englishi //

In The Dialectic of Sex, Shulamith Firestone advocated for a feminist revolution that would not merely question privileges, but overthrow the very material bases of sex-, race- and class oppression. Her utopian manifesto has rarely been taken up in subsequent feminist theory and philosophy, which tended to gravitate towards more situated, heterotopian modes of thinking rebellion (to use Michel Foucault’s concept). Recently, however, several voices have called for a more ambitious, systemic approach to gendered oppression and have revitalised the imagination of radically different futures. Some of them take their inspiration from the “dangerous” utopianism of Shulamith Firestone: they conceive the possibilities for a significant reorganisation of biological reproduction, sexuality and sociality, reproductive and domestic labour; they contest the wage-form; they focus on technology as both a force of oppression and of potential rebellion; they question the possessiveness of filiality and genetic kinship, including from queer and trans feminist perspectives. 

In this Symposium, we will investigate the reasons behind and the potentials of this theoretical reorientation today. We propose to explore the epistemic and political role which imagining a radically different future through systemic change might play in understanding and contesting present institutions and power relations, and the role of the concepts with which we grasp them. While Firestone herself tried to explain gendered oppression with reference to its supposed origin (biological reproduction), we propose to explore what the opposite move might yield: what could imagining a different future tell us about the present? What role – if any – should imagination and speculation play in analysis and critique? We will also consider the risks of blueprinting political action and norming behaviour, potentially inherent in utopian proposals. Is a normative, prescriptive component necessary to an emancipatory, critical theory, and if yes, what should ground it? Is prescription inherent to speculative thought? Is there a way to avoid it – and should we want to?

In this Symposium, we would like to address these and other questions pertaining to the role of utopian speculation in critical thought. The Symposium marks the publication of the first Slovenian translation of The Dialectic of Sex. Contributions to the Symposium will be published by the /*cf. publishing house in 2020 in a volume edited by Katja Čičigoj and Amelia Kraigher.

Keynotes: Victoria Margree, Sophie Lewis
Panelists: Pia Brezavšček, Katja Čičigoj, Chrys Papaioannou, Anamarija Šiša



  • 9.30: Opening address
  • 9.45: Victoria Margree: The Dangerous Utopianism of Shulamith Firestone
  • 11.15: Panel 1:
    Chrys Papaioannou: Pan-World Living
    Katja Čičigoj: On Origins and Endpoints: Teleology and the State of Nature in The Dialectic of Sex
  • 14.30: Panel 2:
    Anamarija Šiša: School is a dying hell: anti-capitalist thoughts about children
    Pia Brezavšček: The Radicality of Shulamith Firestone’s Feminism
  • 16.15: Sophie Lewis: Womb Work, Anti-Work, Liberation
  • 17.45: Closing Discussion


Concept: Katja Čičigoj; organising committee: Katja Čičigoj, Amelia Kraigher, Teja Reba; co-organized by: City of Women; Založba /*cf., Knjigarna Azil (ZRC SAZU); suppoerted by: Ministry of Culture, City of Ljubljana.