Imaginal Politics: Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary (New Directions in Critical Theory)

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9780231157780: Imaginal Politics: Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary (New Directions in Critical Theory)
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Between the radical, creative capacity of our imagination and the social imaginary we are immersed in is an intermediate space philosophers have termed the imaginal, populated by images or (re)presentations that are presences in themselves. Offering a new, systematic understanding of the imaginal and its nexus with the political, Chiara Bottici brings fresh perspective to the formation of political and power relationships and the paradox of a world rich in imagery yet seemingly devoid of imagination. Bottici begins by defining the difference between the imaginal and the imaginary, locating the imaginal's root meaning in the image and its ability to both characterize a public and establish a set of activities within that public. She identifies the imaginal's critical role in powering representative democracies and its amplification through globalization. She then addresses the troublesome increase in images now mediating politics and the transformation of politics into empty spectacle. The spectacularization of politics has led to its virtualization, Bottici observes, transforming images into processes with an uncertain relationship to reality, and, while new media has democratized the image in a global society of the spectacle, the cloned image no longer mediates politics but does the act for us. Bottici concludes with politics' current search for legitimacy through an invented ideal of tradition, a turn to religion, and the incorporation of human rights language.

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Chiara Bottici's Imaginal Politics is an original, suggestive, and solid contribution to political philosophy broadly understood. The strength of Bottici's work lies in its scope and potential for unifying several strands of inquiry into one integrated theory of the imaginal and working out the consequences of this notion for a variety of disciplines. The whole field of 'politics and the imagination' is rapidly expanding, and I would not be surprised if this book were to turn into one of the key references in the field.--Alessandro Ferrara, University of Rome Tor Vergata, and former president of the Italian Association of Political Philosophy

In her new book, Chiara Bottici continues her pathbreaking work in imaginal cultural analysis. Neither properly imaginary nor precisely imaginative, the imaginal is the image broken free of the restraints of both indexicality and referentiality, becoming in the process free-floating agencies in modernity's advertising, spectacular, sports, military, and political games.--Hayden White, University Professor, Emeritus, University of California, Santa Cruz

Insightful, wide-ranging, and exciting.--Laura Hengehold "Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews "

This is an excellent book, very original and elegantly written. Chiara Bottici's contribution to the field of politics is an original one, since, even though there exist other theories about the social imaginary, Bottici's is pivotal in allowing us to understand contemporary politics and its paradoxes. It is a great addition to the field of academic discussions about politics, religion, imagination, and conceptual history.--María Pía Lara, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana

About the Author:

Chiara Bottici is assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research and the author of A Philosophy of Political Myth, Men, and States, and, with Benoit Challand, The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations and Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory, and Identity.

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