2021: UTOPIA

Sept. 18-19 at Silo City

The 2021 Buffalo Humanities Festival celebrates the resilience of hope by reclaiming the rich regional tradition of utopian imagination. Join us at Silo City as we gather scholars, creators, activists, and our local communities to explore progressive visions from the past in order to illuminate our own utopian horizons. Let’s imagine better, more equitable, life-affirming futures—together.


COVID Protocols: We kindly request that all attendees wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Attendees showing proof of vaccination or negative COVID test results within 48 hours of the event will be mask-optional outdoors. Those that do not have proof of vaccination or negative COVID test results will be required to wear masks at all times.

The Buffalo Humanities Festival returns September 18-19 with two afternoons of in-person talks at Silo City–under the open-air Willow Trellis and in the semi-open air Design Studio.

New for 2021, we welcome Daemen College as a Buffalo Humanities Festival partner!

Click here for details.


  • Dimitri Anastasopoulos | Associate Professor of English, University at Buffalo
  • Brian Brown | Ujima Theatre
  • Anita Butera | Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Canisius College
  • David Castillo | Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Director of the Humanities Institute, University at Buffalo
  • Jennifer H. Dorsey | Professor of History, Siena College
  • Averill Earls | Assistant Professor of History, Mercyhurst University and Executive Producer of Dig: A History Podcast
  • Secil Ertorer | Associate Professor of Sociology, Canisius College
  • Alexis Harrell | Junior, University at Buffalo
  • Stephie Ikama | Senior, University at Buffalo
  • Sam Magavern | Senior Policy Fellow, Partnership for the Public Good
  • Laura Marris | Writer and Translater
  • Elizabeth Garner Masarik | Assistant Professor, SUNY Stonybrook and Producer of Dig: A History Podcast
  • Christina Milletti | Associate Professor of English and Executive Director of the Humanities Institute, University at Buffalo
  • Suhana Monsalve |Junior, University at Buffalo
  • Dalia Antonia Caraballo Muller | Associate Professor of History, University at Buffalo/founder of the Impossible Project
  • Lisa K. Parshall | Professor of Political Science, Daemen College and Public Policy Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government
  • Richard D. Reitsma | Associate Professor of Spanish, Canisius College
  • Marissa C. Rhodes | Post-Doctoral Fellow, Arizona State University and Producer of Dig: A History Podcast
  • Daniel Shanahan | Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurism and Program Director, Daemen College/co-founder and Artists Director, Torn Space Theater
  • Brandon Williamson | Ujima Theatre
  • Victoria W. Wolcott | Professor of History, University at Buffalo
graphic interpretation of silos against a golden ground

The 2020 Buffalo Humanities Festival: Utopia was originally scheduled to take place Sept. 24-26, 2020 featuring Spotlight Speaker Candy Chang. Due to COVID-19, the in-person 3-day festival was postponed.

In 2019, while organizing that year’s festival with its focus on Democracy, we decided our 2020 theme would be “Utopia.” At the time, we believed the 2020 festival would take place shortly before the 2020 election when the future of the United States of America would be a pressing topic on everyone’s mind. Little did we know just how pressing considerations of utopia, and by association dystopia, would be in this moment.

While we were not able to host the in-person conversations that have embodied the exchange of ideas at the Buffalo Humanities Festival for the past decade, over the course of the past year we presented virtual programming focused on the theme of utopia that reaches its culmination with the return to our face-to-face format on September 18-19, 2021.

We hope you can join us!

PAST events

Black Utopias in a Post-Pandemic World

Thursday, November 19, 7pm [Zoom]

There is a powerful tradition of utopian practice and thought in African American communities. From black towns like Mound Bayou, Mississippi to the lyrical imaginings of Afrofuturism, Black utopias have been a potent response to racial inequality and suffering. At this moment of rupture, with the related crises of the pandemic, racial uprisings, climate change and economic decline, Black Utopian thought and practice offer alternative paths to the future. On Thursday, November 19 leading scholars and artists in the field of Afrofuturism and Black Utopia will engage in a conversation about the role Black Utopian thinking can play at this crucial moment.

  • Convener and moderator: Victoria W. Wolcott, Professor of History, University at Buffalo;
  • Julian C. Chambliss, Professor of English with an appointment in History and the Val Berryman Curator of History at the MSU Museum at Michigan State University;
  • John Jennings, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside;
  • Alex Zamalin, Director of African American Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Detroit, Mercy.

Presented through the generous support of Humanities New York.