A Time for New Stories: Protopia (Part 2)

Futures Beyond Utopia/Dystopia Binaries

For the past few years, Monika Bielskyte has been developing a vision of the futures that transcends Western-dominant views of utopic and dystopic images. Through her work, Bielskyte has been advancing the concept of Protopia, an expansive and holistic framework anchored in the principles of: plurality, community, celebration of physical presence, regenerative action, symbiotic spirituality, creativity, and evolution of cultural values.

For Bielskyte, a future of techno-solutionism (like that of Smart Cities to Transhumanism) and Dystopia (like Blade Runner or Minority Report) are two sides of the same coin. They either become inspiration for deeply controlling technologies (like Minority Report) or misdirects us with false utopias (like Smart Cities) which showcases amazing technologies “yet the society depicted there remains deeply xenophobic, misogynist, queerphobic and ableist.” 

In an interview with the Copenhagen Institute of Futures Studies, Bielskyte remarks how both sides of these futures images are ultimately anchored in a narrow view of the human experience:

“I am continuously dismayed when I read futures reports that keep centring white, Western, upper-middle-class, heteronormative and abled perspectives, and thereby erase the reality of the majority of the world’s population.”

The Protopia concept has led to the creation of Protopia Futures, a collective which includes Bielskyte and her collaborators. They have developed a Protopia Framework – a framework that packs in a dense, collection of connected ideas around evolution, regeneration, pluralism, and symbiosis.

We are NOT trying to revive Western communitarian socialist frameworks of imposed homogeneity. Rather, we endeavor to learn from the indigeneity-rooted philosophies of interwoven, symbiotic coexistence.

"I just really want to see more flowers in our SciFi futures. Might sound trivial but it isn’t. Think how often have you actually seen flowers in SciFi movies/series & what such absence implies. There’s something so deeply human in appreciating the beauty of nature’s expression & the fact that most SciFi excludes our love for it speaks for itself."

An exciting aspect of Protopia is that it is not a “singular new vision of the future” but “a continuous proactive prototyping of possible futures.” Indeed, Monika Bielskyte has been creating and curating amazing selection of protopia images. 

Bielskyte’s @ProtopiaFutures instagram is filled with curated protopia images, along with insights and recommended readings. It’s a feast of insights and recommended readings that helps provoke and expand what we think is possible for the futures.

Read More about Monika Bielskyte and Protopia Futures:

  • Protopia Framework
  • Protopia Futures instagram page
  • Designing for Protopia Futures (20 minute video): https://vimeo.com/512026000
"Imagine futures wherein ceremonies & rituals aren’t relegated to a past domain - nor do they remain static & mired in nostalgia - but rather mold & adapt to the time & bridge past & with the present in ways that regenerate cultures & ready them for the challenges of the day."

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