On Public Imagination: A Political and Ethical Imperative, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

On Public Imagination

A Political and Ethical Imperative, 1st Edition

Edited by Victor A Faessel, Richard Falk, Michael Curtin


160 pages

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pub: 2019-12-19
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In this wide-ranging and multidisciplinary volume, leading scholars, activists, journalists, and public figures deliberate about the creative and critical potential of public imagination in an era paradoxically marked by intensifying globalization and resurgent nationalism. Divided into five sections, these essays explore the social, political, and cultural role of imagination and civic engagement, offering cogent, ingenious reflections that stand in stark contrast to the often grim rhetoric of our era. Short and succinct, the essays engage with an interconnected ensemble of themes and issues while also providing insights into the specific geographical and social dynamics of each author’s national or regional context.

• Part 1 introduces the reader to theoretical reflections on imagination and the public sphere;

• Part 2 illustrates dynamics of public imagination in a diverse set of cultural contexts;

• Part 3 reflects in various ways on the urgent need for a radically transformed public and civic imagination in the face of worldwide ecological crisis;

• Part 4 suggests new societal possibilities that are related to spiritual as well as politically revolutionary sources of inspiration;

• Part 5 explores characteristics of present and potentially emerging global society and the existing transnational framework that could provide resources for a more humane global order.

Erudite and thought-provoking, On Public Imagination makes a vital contribution to political thought, and is accessible to activists, students, and scholars alike.


"Richard Falk, Victor Faessel and Michael Curtin have brought together a diverse set of authors for an in-depth examination of the importance of public imagination. This is a much needed angle into the larger debate about the decay of liberal democracy."Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, author of Expulsions.

"Confronting today’s public challenges demands reason and benefits from a sense of history – but neither is a substitute for imagination. We need imagination both to understand what is going on and to decide how to respond. Without imagination our public debates are inanimate and our politics mere power struggles. This book brings 30 exciting perspectives on how to renew public imagination." Craig Calhoun, University Professor of Social Sciences, Arizona State University.

"Facing mounting global problems ranging from climate change to widening social inequality, our 21st-century world is in desperate need of collective action based on a pluralistic public imagination. This highly readable anthology presents the concise and innovative views of dozens of influential intellectuals on the critical role of an ethical imagination that cut across political, economic, and cultural divides. Highly recommended!"Manfred B. Steger, Professor of Sociology, University of Hawai'i-Manoa and Global Professorial Fellow, Western Sydney University

Table of Contents

Introduction: Public Imagination in the Age of Populist and Authoritarian Politics

Richard Falk and Victor Faessel

Part 1: Imagination: Theory and Engagement

1. Rallying: On Imagination's Political Process

Julie Carlson

2. What Has Happened to Public Imagination and Why?

Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D. Seely

3. Imaginal Politics in the Age of Trumpism

Chiara Bottici

4. Public Space: Thinking at the Edge of the Cave

Fred Dallmayr

5. The Political Implications of Popular Media

Michael Curtin

6. A New Operating System for Humanity

Kamal Sinclair

Part 2: Imagining Communities and Rights

7. Living Together: Secularism and the Making of an Indian Public Sphere

Neera Chandhoke

8. How to Think About Populism

Akeel Bilgrami

9. Transcending Public Evil

Victoria Brittain

10. Trump, Islamophobia, and Public Imagination

Chandra Muzaffar

11. America's Divided Political Imaginary

Paul W. Kahn

12. Migration, Terrorism, and the Survival of the Liberal Project

Tom Farer

13. Building a Movement Against Genocide in Myanmar

Penny Green

14. Ambedkar and Du Bois on Pursuing Rights Protections Globally

Luis Cabrera

15. Why Should We Care about Chineseness?

Allen Chun

Part 3: Ecological Imaginations

16. Seeding the Future, Seeding Freedom…One Seed at a Time

Vandana Shiva

17. Ecological Publics: Imagining Epistemic Openness

Anna Grear

18. Reimagining Politics through the Lens of the Commons

David Bollier

Part 4: Rupture and Revolution

19. Ruminations on Darkness and Light

Elizabeth West

20. Public Imagination as Prophetic Legacy

Catherine Keller

21. A New "Axial Age": Opening and Disarray

Abdellah Hammoudi

22. Naming the Revolutionary Moment

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi

23. The Great Gramsci: Imagining an Alt-Left Project

Dayan Jayatilleka

24. A Dialectic of Dystopia and Utopia in the Public Imagination of the 21st Century

Stephen Gill

Part 5: Across the Border

25. The Future of National and Global (Dis)Order: Exclusive Populism vs. Inclusive Global Governance

Ahmet Davutoğlu

26. The Indispensability of Utopias: A Note on Davutoglu

Celso Amorim

27. Imagining the Right to Peace

Marjorie Cohn

28. Peace in World Affairs: Geopolitical and Public Imagination

Johan Galtung

29. Imagining Global Governance: Alternatives to Trump, Brexit, and New Wars

Mary Kaldor

30. Politics of Compassion in an Age of Ruthless Power

Kevin Clements


Victor Faessel

About the Editors

Victor Faessel is Associate Director of the Mellichamp Initiative on 21st Century Global Dynamics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is co-editor (with Richard Falk and Manoranjan Mohanty) of Exploring Emergent Global Thresholds: Towards 2030 (2017), and is managing editor of the Oxford Handbook of Global Studies (2018, Mark Juergensmeyer, Saskia Sassen, and Manfred Steger, eds.) as well as the 4-volume Encyclopedia of Global Studies (2012, Helmut Anheier and Mark Juergensmeyer, eds.). He has been the general secretary of the Global Studies Consortium, a worldwide association of teaching programs, since its founding in 2007.

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice, Emeritus at Princeton University, and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Orfalea Center of Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author or editor of numerous books, most recently Revisiting the Vietnam War (2017), Power Shift: The New Global Order (2017), Palestine's Horizon: Toward a Just Peace (2016), (Re)imagining Humane Global Governance (2014), and The Path to Zero: Dialogues on Nuclear Dangers, with David A. Krieger (2012). He is also the author of a book of poems, Waiting for Rainbows (2015).

Michael Curtin is the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Chair and Distinguished Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Local Labor (2016); Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television (2014); Reorienting Global Communication: Indian and Chinese Media Beyond Borders (2010); and Playing to the World’s Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV (2007).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory