no. 66, November 2023

Glossy Urban Dystopias

Edited by Penny Koutrolikou and Cristina Mattiucci


In the current post-crises, post-pandemic (and post-political) conjuncture, the future is often portrayed cladded with potential emergencies and disasters. Post-disaster films and novels have created numerous imaginaries of dystopic futures – some eerily familiar. Similarly, critical theorists have highlighted the rising tendencies of governments and institutions to use future emergencies in order to justify further securitization, pacification coercive governmentalities and inequalities/injustices.

But what happens if the forthcoming future dystopias are more akin to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World than George Orwell’s 1984 (as Neil Postman once suggested)? But what happens if the forthcoming future dystopias radiate ‘happiness’ rather than fear? If the forecasted dystopic future is not only materialized through apocalyptic landscapes but within the glossy images of cities and neighbourhoods where happy people live and enjoy themselves?

Commonly, narratives of urban crises and decline come together with narratives and representations of regeneration, rejuvenation and rebranding of the cities ‘in crisis’, which try to draw a convincing better promised future – if only. And this better future is built via alluring, enticing images of urban phantasmagorias where  problems (people, neighbourhoods, politics) have been ‘photoshoped out’, thus shaping urban imaginaries.

Contrary to the post-apocalyptic dystopic futures, these ‘glossy attractive urban dystopias’ do not warn about the dangers that the given underlain socio-political trajectory might entail. Rather they pacify anxieties by providing a ‘picture perfect future’ which becomes imprinted into social imaginaries with a positive association – albeit with no questions asked.

For whom is this future planned and who is excluded from it?

And how futures and counter futures are constructed and how can these future-perfect dystopias can be challenged?

Following these questions, this issue aims to collect case studies, stories and theoretical reflections in order to critical discuss urban dystopias, which in their manifold features shaping urban imaginaries and urban policies.


|Deadline for Abstracts: include a brief description outlining how your submission addresses themes outlined in the call for papers. The abstract should be no more than 300 words. | 10 September 2023

| Notification of acceptance | 15 September 2023

| Final submission deadline | 07 October 2023

| Articles’ length | 2,000 words

| Submit to | losquaderno≤at≥gmail≤.≥com

| Information about the Journal |

| Information about the Editorial Process + Author’s Submission Checklist |