When the class first started I defined a dystopia as being “a place where citizens have essentially lost all freedoms and are living in a world that has been overtaken by violence and they are under control by a single figure or concept.” I arrived at this definition based on the books I have read and the movies I have watched, this definition was based on fictional elements. After several months of completing assignments and reading and annotating articles and essays in the class, I have reworked my definition of a dystopia. I would now define a dystopia as being an subjectively undesirable place where people experience brutality, oppression, and restraints and restrictions.
I would justify my definition by using one of the essays I referenced the most throughout the semester which is Iris Young’s Five Faces of Oppression. The five faces are marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, violence, and exploitation. Powerlesness is referring to how some groups are silenced and dominated by the ruling class, which is essentially a direct element of a dystopia. Violence is referring to how some groups of people experience unprovoked attacks on them and their property, and from what I can recall, dystopias are riddled with violence and destruction. This would justify a dystopia being classified as an undesirable place because nobody wants to live in fear all the time knowing their life is in danger, nobody wants to be silenced and have their freedoms taken away. The second article I would use to justify my definition would be Dystopias Now by Kim Stanley Robinson. This was an article that took a more realistic approach to exactly what a dystopia consists of, not just fictional elements, and the article mention things that we currently experience in the world today, such as natural resource depletion, the government trying to make it citizens happy but instead making them miserable unintentionally, the extinction of certain animals, and etc. This is an undesireable world that no one should want to live in.
Now, using my real life to justify my definition of a dystopia, I would consider what I am living in now, the United States, to have dystopian elements. I am African-American and African Americans might experience one of the highest rates of brutality due to the police, not to mention we were once oppressed and to a certain extent, we are still oppressed. Though it might not be enforced by the law directly, we have restraints and restrictions that other groups of people do not have. So pointing this out, I would like to mention that the world could be considered a dystopia for certain groups of people but it could also be considered a utopia by a different group of people depending on the hardships they have to face, if any.