1st Edition

From the Pandemic to Utopia The Future Begins Now

By Boaventura de Sousa Santos Copyright 2023
    262 Pages
    by Routledge

    262 Pages
    by Routledge

    The coronavirus pandemic forces us to rethink our contemporaneity. It has brought to the surface dimensions of human fragility that partially contradict the euphoria and human hubris of the fourth industrial revolution (artificial intelligence). It has also aggravated the social inequality and racial discrimination that characterize our societies. The book argues that the virus, rather than an enemy, must be viewed as a pedagogue. It is trying to teach us that the deep causes of the pandemic lie in our dominant mode of production and consumption. The systemic overload of natural resources creates a metabolic rift between society and nature that destabilizes the habitat of wild animals and the vital cycles of natural regeneration whereby pandemics become an increasingly recurrent phenomenon. In trying to take seriously this lesson the book proposes a paradigmatic shift from the current civilizatory model to a new one guided by a more equitable relationship between nature and society and the priority of life, both human and non-human.

    Part One: The 21st century presents itself
    1. The pandemic and the contradictions of contemporaneity
    2. Abyssal capitalism: The pandemic as business
    3. The open veins of inequality and discrimination
    4. Community resistance and self-organization
    Part Two: The future starts now
    5. Three scenarios: Between hell redux and kairós
    6.  Towards an insurgent, intercultural and cosmopolitan declaration of human rights and duties
    7. The paradigmatic transition: A world to accommodate many worlds
    8. First steps of the paradigmatic transition


    Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Coimbra (Portugal), and Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books have been published in Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian, French, German, Chinese, Danish, Romanian, Polish and Korean. Among his recent books in English are Decolonising the University: The Challenge of Deep Cognitive Justice (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2021); and Toward a New Legal Common Sense: Law, Globalization, and Emancipation, Third Edition (Cambridge University Press 2020).

    The COVID-19 pandemic came as a wake-up call for humanity. The modern myths of a full mastering of nature by humans and of permanent growth on a limited planet have fallen apart. As humanity, we need a paradigm shift, new ways of thinking, inhabiting and living in our world with nature of which we are a part, rather than against it. In this incisive and comprehensive book, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, a leading global thinker of our time, provides us with tools to fulfil this collective mission that will define the 21st century.

    Geoffrey Pleyers, University of Louvain, Vice-President of the International Sociological Association

    Only Boaventura de Sousa Santos could deliver epochal thinking of this scale. As a dialectic of fear and hope, he ties the necessity of utopianism to the possibilities of a world devastated but also made transparent by the pandemic.  

    Michael Burawoy, University of California-Berkeley