Nico Besnier in anthropology Friday seminar

Nico Besnier (University of Amsterdam / Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies) will present the paper “Utopia Modern: Palm Springs in the American Imaginary” in the Anthropology Friday seminar on Friday 11 October, 2-4 pm, (Unioninkatu 35, room 114).

Abstract. How to understand utopia when different groups conceptualize it in different ways? This is the fundamental question of my ongoing fieldwork in the city of Palm Springs in the California desert, originally the land of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indian and was, at the end of the 19th century invaded by white settlers in search of the healing powers of the desert climate. Later it became the playground for Hollywood stars, suddenly affluent post-war middle-classes, gays and lesbians looking for an oasis of tolerance, and the homeless, all driven by utopic quests lined with dystopic realities. At the end of the millennium, it was claimed again by the Indian tribe, who established ultra-capitalist casinos. The heterogeneity of the utopic projects leads us to a rethinking of the meaning of utopia in the 21st century.

All are welcome!