Counterimagination and the Plurality of Radical Politics

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This paper considers the role imagination plays in radical politics, resistance, and political expression. Contemporary political theory shows that political imagination is an important resource for dominated groups because it holds possibilities for radical transformation. This paper goes beyond the existing literature’s focus on public, visible, and emancipatory instantiations of political imagination. It shows that political imagination has forms that are nonpublic and quotidian and that these must be attended to alongside public instantiations of imagination. Political imagination often moves iteratively between categories of public, private, intersubjective, and personal, and it is frequently invited by shared objects. My account of political imagination also attends equally to the ways that political imagination can foster relations of domination and to how it can be mobilized by marginalized groups for radically transformative purposes. I offer a concept of “counterimagination” to
illuminate the multiplicity of ways that imagination can be transformative for political life. Counterimagination is a nonpublic form of political imagination levied by marginalized groups that holds possibilities for transformation both for the subject and for the wider political order.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Early online date21 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

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