Utopias are embedded in contexts from which they derive meaning and significance. As a vehicle for speculation, intervention, and creativity, narrative utopia (the literary genre and its counterparts in other media) reflects the circumstances of its times, including its culture's relationship to the past. This article offers a survey of ways in which utopias engage with the problematics of historical memory both by looking to the past in the “real” world (either critically or apologetically) or in a mythical world (in the sphere of religion) and by positing fictional peoples with their own historical memory/ies, as instanced in legends, libraries, works of art, and so on. The erasure or falsification of memory, on the other hand, appears as an important leitmotif of the dystopian imagination. By pointing out a variety of examples and issues, the article will attempt to bridge the existing gap between utopian studies and cultural memory studies.

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