"The Project Of A People: Reconsidering Vasconcelos' Utopianism"


One of the central challenges for modern nation states is how to enable large scale social cooperation in a way that avoids the dangers of racial or cultural nationalism. In a series of papers and books in the 1920s, the Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos offered an intriguing answer to this challenge. He advocated an aesthetic utopian state that valorized cultural and racial mixture, not as something to be tolerated or regarded as beneficial, but as a project of cultural and national unification. This talk reconstructs his account, replies to some standard objections, and considers whether this sort of approach casts light on some urgent issues in contemporary cultural and political life.