Kent Professor Davina Cooper has been awarded the Charles Taylor Book Award 2015 for her book Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces.
The annual award recognizes the best book in political science that employs or develops interpretive methodologies and methods and has been made by the American Political Science Association (APSA).
APSA is a leading professional organisation for the study of political science, with more than 13,000 members in countries across the world. The selection committee for the award, named in recognition of the contributions of Charles Taylor to the advancement of interpretive thinking in the political and social sciences, consisted of Professor Gerry Berk (University of Oregon), Professor Gary Herrigel (University of Chicago), and Professor Paul Amar (University of California-Santa Barbara). Professor Cooper has been invited to receive the award in person at the annual business meeting of APSA in San Francisco on Friday 4 September.
In her book, Everyday Utopias, Professor Cooper challenges the common assumption that utopia means a perfect but unattainable place that is far away, both in time and geography. She describes how everyday utopias are present and near to hand, aspirational but also imperfect spaces, that are open and accessible. Research for the book took place over 11 years, focusing on six sites dedicated to very different kinds of everyday activity including governing, trading, and schooling, appearing in public naked, debating, and having sex. It was conducted through first-hand observations and interviews with 150 participants, including those at Speakers’ Corner in London, the famous â€œfree schoolâ€ Summerhill School in Suffolk, and the Toronto Women’s Bathhouse.