At the Margins of Ideal Cities: The Dystopian Drift of Modern Utopias

Felipe Schwember, Julia Urabayen

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1 Scopus citations


Contemporary political philosophy has critically reflected on—if not denounced—the theoretical constructions and political enterprises that have been encouraged by modern Utopian tradition. This process of critical reflection has constantly signaled the tension between the emancipatory aspirations of that thought and its dystopian drift. Many authors have highlighted the problems that affect the constitution of those ideal cities. However, this article will be focused on the exclusive and excluding character of those ideal narratives, of those unblemished ideal spaces, of those happy spaces that are, in the end, nonspaces. This article will explain the meanings of the modern utopias taking into account the postmodern point of view that shows the exclusion the modern utopias provoke. At the margins of the ideal cities live all those beings that the utopias have vomited out and expelled from their perfect world: monsters, abnormals, infamous, pariahs, and countryless refugees. Those beings—so well described by Arendt and Foucault, among others—are those who are not part of any ideal city; they are the stones that the builders of the perfect cities have used to build them or have discarded them.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Foucault
  • Utopia
  • dystopia
  • ideal cities
  • more


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