Living in Utopia
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Akash Kapur grew up in the intentional community of Auroville, in South India. In 2004, he returned there as an adult, to live with his wife and two sons. Better to Have Goneis a personal, historical and sociological account of this “aspiring utopia,” as well as a more general meditation on the age-old human quest to build a perfect world. In this conversation, he and New Yorkerstaff writer Larissa MacFarquhar (who spent time in Auroville in the 1980s) discuss the attractions and perils of utopian thinking, the thin line between idealism and extremism, and the possibilities of intentional living.
This event is sponsored by the Center for South Asia and the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society.
Akash Kapur is the author of India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India; and Better to Have Gone: Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville,which was selected by The New York Timesas a Notable Book of 2021 and by the New Statesmanas a Book of the Year. He is the former “Letter from India” columnist for the New York Times,and writes regularly for the New Yorker,the Wall Street Journal,and other publications. He is a Senior Fellow at the GovLab at NYU, and a founding member of the academic advisory board for Krea University. He has a BA (Anthropology) from Harvard, and a DPhil (Law) from Oxford.
Larissa MacFarquhar is the author of Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Urge to Help. She is a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker,where she has written articles about the child welfare system, dementia care, the Falkland Islands, Barack Obama, John Ashbery, and Noam Chomsky, among many other subjects.