Imaginal Politics

Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary

Chiara Bottici

Columbia University Press

Imaginal Politics

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Pub Date: May 2014

ISBN: 9780231157780

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£54.95

Pub Date: May 2014

ISBN: 9780231527811

272 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£54.95

Imaginal Politics

Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary

Chiara Bottici

Columbia University Press

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.
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
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
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part 1. Imagining
1. From Phantasia to Imagination
2. From Imagination to the Imaginary and Beyond?
3. Toward a Theory of the Imaginal
Part 2. Politics
4. A Genealogy of Politics: From Its Invention to the Biopolitical Turn
5. Imaginal Politics
6. Contemporary Transformations Between Spectacle and Virtuality
Part 3. The Global Spectacle
7. The Politics of the Past: The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations
8. The Repositioning of Religion in the Public Sphere: Imaginal Consequences
9. Imagining Human Rights: Gender, Race, and Class
The Freedom of Equals: A Conclusion and a New Beginning
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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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 Benoît Challand, The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations and Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory, and Identity.