What is a Dystopia? End of the Year Edition

Alas, we have come upon the question again: What is a dystopia? But this time, we are taking an end of the year perspective. Based off of everything I have learned, I believe that a dystopia is an imaginary place that speculates on possible futures characterized by the oppression of those under the controlling power.

The first reason why I chose this definition is because of “Dystopias Now” by Kim Stanley Robinson. In it she states, “There are a lot of dystopias around these days, and this makes sense, because we have a lot of fears about the future.” She also says, “…dystopias today seem mostly like the metaphorical lens of the science-fictional double action. They exist to express how this moment feels, focusing on fear as a cultural dominant.” These two quotes are why I say dystopias are a speculative future that plays on how we are feeling at the time. I think back to the dystopia I did my project on and the historical background on why Margaret Atwood wrote that book. It was because during that time science was advancing very fast and some uncanny experiments were happening. Atwood took this experience and speculated a possible future where things go wrong which is what a dystopia is.

Not only this, but another important aspect of a dystopia is the oppression. I feel like “oppression” is the number one word of the class. It is used so often which is why I had to include it in the definition. Oppression is one of the first things we talked about in this class in Iris Young’s “Five Faces of Oppression”. As we read and learned about dystopias, I personally would use Iris Young a lot because her faces of oppression would come up in every single dystopia (violence and marginalization especially). This oppression is a major characteristic of a utopia, so it is imperative that this was included in the definition.

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