On Utopus’ uterus: The colonisation of the body and the birth of patriarchal utopia in Thomas More’s Utopia
Following European exploration of the Atlantic, origin myths could now be projected onto a possible future and ‘undiscovered’ lands. Often the island proved the most suitable design for these projections to ensure the ‘perfection’ of the community and avoidance of corruptive external influences. These novel conceptualisations envisaged new social constructs to explain human nature, however, they continued to be overtly patriarchal. Gender essentialism and colonisation of the female body was an integral part of reproducing traditional utopian imaginings. Thomas More’s Utopia exemplifies this archetypal gendered conceptualisation of the ideal island society where female education serves to reinforce patriarchal structures and women are essentialised in terms of their fertility. This paper addresses the relationship between the geography of Utopia and the insularity and confinement of women as dominated ‘matrixial entities’ which is further reinforced by utopian cartography. In this context, I assert that the process of colonisation and islanding unsettles the immutability of these patriarchal constructs and exposes the dystopian origins of Utopia.
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