no. 50, December 2018

Utopia and Measure

Edited by Fredrik Torisson & Andrea Mubi Brighenti



Finding ourselves on the threshold of radically increased capabilities of measuring a vastly expanded array of different aspects of social life, it is apposite to discuss not only the means, but also the ends of measuring. If measures are the means, what are the ends?

Measuring cannot simply be considered an epistemological undertaking dissociated from values. On the contrary: we measure things we value. Conversely, one may suggest that the things we measure have a tendency to become valorised as they become measured, complicating the causal relationship. Furthermore, new techniques of measuring the world not only denote a passive reading of the world, but also a transformative event that may impose a new order onto the world, as well as providing new modes of governance and control.

In this sense, new methods and units of measuring are intimately connected with world-making and modes of existence. What are the endgames implied here, or, put differently: What are the utopian problems to which techniques of measuring respond?

Utopia has often presented itself as the pure aim of measurement. But, what if utopia is in fact the spirit of a perpetual interrogation that voices an endless dissatisfaction with the measures in place? If so, utopia would be a stance that undoes assumptions more than implementing measures. And yet, what would be a utopia without measure?

On a theoretical level, we may ask why we measure in the first place. Is the ever-increasing array of measuring techniques leading us to the problem of meaning that we find ourselves unable to formulate consciously, a round-about way of approaching unconscious utopian desires? Or, alternatively, has measuring become the end in-and-of itself? Here, a discussion of whether that which is not, or cannot be measured (yet) can be harnessed through the act of measuring, or whether the measuring itself will destroy the very qualities it seeks to capture?

In this issue, we welcome contributions that address these and related questions, looking at the past, present and future in terms of the complex relation between measure and utopia. The issue is open to contributions from philosophy, anthropology, geography, sociology, architecture, urban planning and beyond.



| Deadline | 15 September 2018

| Articles’ length | 2,000 words


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