Research Seminar: Associate Professor Hedley Twidle (UCT) on Akash Kapur’s 'Better to Have Gone:
 Memoir, utopia and belonging in the postcolony'

05 Apr 2022
05 Apr 2022

We will be hosting the latest session in our Departmental Research Seminar on Friday April 8th from 14h00-15h30 (AC Jordan 116). Associate Professor Hedley Twidle (UCT) will be giving a paper entitled: “Akash Kapur’s Better to Have Gone: Memoir, utopia and belonging in the postcolony”. 

In Better to Have Gone (2021), the non-fiction writer Akash Kapur weaves family memoir together with a history of Auroville, an intentional community or ‘living laboratory’ in Tamil Nadu, southern India. Subtitled ‘Love, Death and the Quest for Utopia’, Kapur’s literary investigation into the deaths of two founder members of the community (his wife's parents) widens out into a larger reflection on 20th-century utopianism and its discontents. Twidle’s reading considers the problems and possibilities of life writing within such a contested social terrain, probing what Jessica Namakkal calls ‘the paradox of a postcolonial utopia’. At the same time, he questions the sceptical, demystifying impulse that tends to inform academic treatments of utopian thought – an impulse that tends to fold any emergent possibility back into the familiar language of critique.

As always, all are welcome

Please direct questions or enquiries about the event to Dr Oliver Melvill (