The Interdepartmental Center 

of Research into Utopia

The Center was born in 1982 as a Group of research into Utopia, inside the Department of Philosophy; in 1991 it was acknowledged as a Interdepartmental Center.

Its basic character is that of a research community. As such it had already existed in the 70s, while in 1982 it specified better its aim, concentrating all its forces on utopia. The idea of a research community is for us that of a sodality of scholars who work together in weekly meetings in which the research of every member is discussed in all its phases by everybody. Members alternate as speakers. And so the research of the single individuals is continually verified and enriched, there is a continuous exchange of ideas, a cultural enrichment of everybody.

Therefore the group was able to grow and become creative and fecund, and rethink utopia radically finding out, beneath the philosophical and literary fact, to which until now most people have devoted their attention, a more profound layer, that of the popular movements (two streams precisely: religious movements of salvation, that is Jewish Messianism, Evangelical annunciation, Millennialism, medieval and modern heresy; modern revolutionary movements, that is, the modern revolutions) in which utopia has had until now its historical bearers and has grown as the "project of a society based on justice" ( of a fraternal society later) which drives forward the whole of human history. A project and a process and, since the English Revolution, a construction in progress. So that for three centuries the construction of a society based on justice has advanced, though amid great difficulties, has stopped, has flowed; nevertheless realising basic social and political structures. All that can help mankind to dissipate the historical pessimism that pervades it, and to found hope, and therefore the engagement of us all.

This basic rethinking has found its fullest expression in the volume of A..Colombo, L’utopia. Rifondazione di un’idea e di una storia, Bari, Dedalo, 1997; but it is present in all our works, which aim at the historical and concrete utopia, as opposed to the literary utopia. They have aimed to revalue some very creative masters such as Winstanley and Fourier (or the re-understanding of Plato and Thomas More); to revalue the English Revolution of the Long Parliament, to understand the collapse of soviet communism as an end not of a utopia but of a dystopia, a perverse society, and as a possible renewal of utopia itself; to revalue certain structures of the utopian project universally despised as direct democracy or ethical bonds.

The character of a research community distinguishes the Center from others, which are often organisational forms without a real movement of thought behind them. This character has given to the Center of  Lecce a precise identity and has provoked the attention of other groups and centers on an international level too.

The address

Palazzo Parlangeli, via M. Stampacchia, 73100, Lecce - Italy

tel. 0039-0832-336628, 336619, fax 0039-0832-336626



The members

Our activities

Since its beginning the Center has had two activities which have always remained basic for its work: a Series of Essays and New Editions, and the International Conferences on Utopia. Other activities were added later.

The Series

The Series "L'Utopia - Testi e Studi" was first published by Franco Angeli, Milan, and includes the following four volumes:

Afterwards because of some problems connected to advertising and circulation too, the Series was moved to the publisher Dedalo, Bari, with the title "L'Utopia - Per una societą giusta e fraterna". The following volumes have been issued:

The Center has edited a monographic number of the Florentine review "Stazione di posta", Il tema: l'utopia, with essays by A. Colombo, M. Moneti, C. Quarta, G. Schiavone, L. Tundo, R. Creagh, K. Kumar (nos. 55-57, Sept. 1993 - Apr. 1994, pp.5-93).

These volumes can be purchased from Edizioni Dedalo, v.le Luigi Iacobini 5, Zona Industriale, Cas. Post. BA/19, 70123 Bari, Italy, tel.080-5311413, fax 080-5311414, e-mail: By other publishers are issued the following volumes:


The International Conferences on Utopia

These have been held since 1984 every two years (the last at three years intervals due to financial difficulties). Their aim is to check the research of the Center with other scholars, to exchange ideas with them and to enrich our experience. Therefore we always choose a subject on which the Center has already worked previously. Therefore these Conferences are important for us, in a certain sense they are necessary.
They have a strictly monographic character, conceived according to a precise project, run with a precise methodology which pivots on the discussion. Ten speakers are chosen and engaged on the points of the project; ten other scholars are invited; papers must arrive in time to be distributed and read in advance in order to achieve a better result in the discussion.
From every Conference we build a collective volume, conceived and carried out as an autonomous collection of essays.
The Conferences we have held until now are the following:

The documents

From 1992 to 1997 the Center has prepared and edited some documents on the problems of political and social situations. They have been sent to the press, to politicians, trade-unionists, scholars on utopia and other scholars who are our friends. Later on such documents have been edited by the Movement  for a just society.
The documents we have edited are the following:

The debates and the Movement

Following the issue of the volume "L'utopia. Rifondazione di un'idea e di una storia" by A.Colombo, the Center has started a series of debates with the people on the subject "A society based on justice. What we can and must hope", which is the message of the volume.
From these debates "The Movement for a just society and for hope" has sprung up spontaneously, for which we prepared a basic text and a basic declaration which serves for membership too. This initiative started in 1997 and aims to develop itself forming local groups of engagement and of action. Moreover it has developed an intense activity intervening in national and international questions..