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Joe P.L. Davidson

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Leverhulme Early Career Fellow


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I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. I joined Warwick in 2022 after completing my PhD in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. My PhD dissertation focused on the relationship between utopia, temporality and social theory, and my new Leverhulme-funded project is concerned with climate apocalyptic narratives. I have published in a range of academic journals, including Sociology, The Sociological Review, Theory, Culture & Society, European Journal of Social Theory, Current Sociology, and Feminist Theory. I am also a co-convenor of the British Sociological Association’s Theory Study Group.


My work is focused on developing a social theory of the future. My PhD research focused on the relationship between utopia and temporality. It utilised a range of utopian texts to develop the notion of the post-futural utopia, or a utopian vision that responds to the fall of the modern time regime by bringing together the realms of the future, present and past in new ways. This might be by exploring the Link opens in a new windowdistinctive temporalityLink opens in a new window of Black utopian visions, examining the Link opens in a new windowlooping conceptionLink opens in a new window of time proposed by dub reggae artists in the 1970s, or the Link opens in a new windowretrotopian impulseLink opens in a new window of contemporary feminist science fiction. More generally, I have also examined the Link opens in a new windowdistinctive formLink opens in a new window of social theory produced by utopian fiction, as well as discussing the utopianism of thinkers like Link opens in a new windowW. E. B. Du BoisLink opens in a new window, Link opens in a new windowErnst BlochLink opens in a new window, and Link opens in a new windowWilliam MorrisLink opens in a new window. These concerns are also reflected by my writings for popular audiences, including a Link opens in a new windowlong essayLink opens in a new window on the continuing relevance of the utopian ideas of the interwar period for politics today.

At Warwick, I will be working on a new project focused on climate apocalyptic narratives. Whether it is movements like Extinction Rebellion or popular nonfiction books such as David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth (2019), the sense that climate change will bring mass devastation and corrode social structures suffuses the cultural consciousness. However, the positive value of climate apocalyptic narratives, despite their prevalence, has been largely overlooked by environmental theorists, both in sociology and beyond. This is a shame, not least because the apocalypse has long offered a means by which marginalised groups have conceptualised the world. From the millenarian peasant movements of early modern Europe to the rise of Rastafarianism in the postcolonial Caribbean, visions of the end of the world critique the injustice of actually existing society and posit an emancipated society in the future. My aim is to consider whether climate apocalyptic narratives function in a similar manner. To what extent do images of a future Earth ravaged by climate change augment critical theory? Does the figure of climate apocalypse reveal what is wrong with the social world by imagining its collapse? Can the end of this world inform thinking about the beginning of another, more liberated one?

To begin to address these questions, I have produced an article with Filipe Carreira da Silva focused on the role of the climate apocalypse in the African American theoretical and cultural tradition, as well as a piece on the idea of collapse in the contemporary environmental movement, a critique of existential risk studies, and a reconstruction of the feeling of eco-anxiety.


In 2023/24, I am teaching on SO339-15 Religion & the Planetary Crises.


Journal articles

Davidson, J. P. L. (2023). "The politics of eco-anxiety: Anthropocene dread from depoliticisation to repoliticisation." The Anthropocene Review. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1177/20530196231211854.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2023). "Extinctiopolitics: Existential Risk Studies, the Extinctiopolitical Unconscious, and the Billionaires’ Exodus from Earth." New Formations, 107/108, 48-65.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2023) "Two cheers for collapse? On the uses and abuses of the societal collapse thesis for imagining Anthropocene futures.Link opens in a new window" Environmental Politics, 32(6), 969-987.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2023). “The sociology of utopia, modern temporality and Black visions of liberationLink opens in a new window.” Sociology, 57(4), 827-842.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2023). “Repeating beats: The return of rave, memories of joy and nostalgia between the afterglow and the hangover.Link opens in a new windowMemory Studies, 16(2), 421-434.

Davidson, J. P. L. and da Silva, F. C. (2022). “Fear of a Black planet: Climate apocalypse, Anthropocene futures, and Black social thoughtLink opens in a new window.” European Journal of Social Theory, 25(4), 521-538.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2022). “Dub, utopia, and the ruins of the CaribbeanLink opens in a new window.” Theory, Culture & Society, 39(1): 3-22.

Davidson, J. P. L (2022). “Back in time for utopia: Neo-Victorian utopianism and the return to William MorrisLink opens in a new window.” European Journal of Cultural Studies, 25(3), 863-879.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “Looking laterally: The literary utopia and the task of critical social theoryLink opens in a new window.” Current Sociology, 69(7), 1069-1084.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “Ugly progress: W. E. B. Du Bois’s sociology of the futureLink opens in a new window.” The Sociological Review, 69(1), 382-395.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “A dash of pessimism? Ernst Bloch, radical disappointment and the militant excavation of hopeLink opens in a new window.” Critical Horizons, 22(4), 420-437.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “Retrotopian feminism: The feminist 1970s, the literary utopia and Sarah Hall’s Link opens in a new windowThe Carhullan ArmyLink opens in a new window.” Feminist Theory. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1177/1464700121994076.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “From the future to the past (and back again?): A review of Aleida Assmann’sLink opens in a new window Is Time Out of Joint? On the Rise and Fall of the Modern Time RegimeLink opens in a new window.” Review essay (with a response from Assmann). International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1007/s10767-021-09412-9.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “Aristocratic realism: Within and against feudalism in English future fictionLink opens in a new window.” Alluvium, 9(3). DOI:

Davidson, J. P. L. (2020). “Between utopia and tradition: William Morris’s Link opens in a new windowA Dream of John BallLink opens in a new window.The European Legacy, 25(4), 389-403.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2020). ““Life can be a little bit fluffy”: Survival television, neoliberalism and the ambiguous utopia of self-preservationLink opens in a new window.” Television and New Media, 21(5), 475-492.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2019). “Blast from the past: Hopeful retrofuturism in science fiction filmLink opens in a new window.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 33(6), 729-743.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2019). “My utopia is your utopia? William Morris, utopian theory and the claims of the pastLink opens in a new window.” Thesis Eleven, 152(1), 87-101.

Public scholarship

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “Book review: Link opens in a new windowSoul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American UtopiaLink opens in a new window by Thomas Healy.Link opens in a new windowAncillary Review of Books, 15 September.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “Chasing utopia.Link opens in a new windowTribune, 26 July.

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). “Book review: Link opens in a new windowA River Called TimeLink opens in a new window by Courttia Newland.Link opens in a new windowStrange Horizons, 22 February.