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
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
2. What Has Happened to Public Imagination and Why?
Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D. Seely
3. Imaginal Politics in the Age of Trumpism
4. Public Space: Thinking at the Edge of the Cave
5. The Political Implications of Popular Media
6. A New Operating System for Humanity
Part 2: Imagining Communities and Rights
7. Living Together: Secularism and the Making of an Indian Public Sphere
8. How to Think About Populism
9. Transcending Public Evil
10. Trump, Islamophobia, and Public Imagination
11. America's Divided Political Imaginary
Paul W. Kahn
12. Migration, Terrorism, and the Survival of the Liberal Project
13. Building a Movement Against Genocide in Myanmar
14. Ambedkar and Du Bois on Pursuing Rights Protections Globally
15. Why Should We Care about Chineseness?
Part 3: Ecological Imaginations
16. Seeding the Future, Seeding Freedom…One Seed at a Time
17. Ecological Publics: Imagining Epistemic Openness
18. Reimagining Politics through the Lens of the Commons
Part 4: Rupture and Revolution
19. Ruminations on Darkness and Light
20. Public Imagination as Prophetic Legacy
21. A New "Axial Age": Opening and Disarray
22. Naming the Revolutionary Moment
23. The Great Gramsci: Imagining an Alt-Left Project
24. A Dialectic of Dystopia and Utopia in the Public Imagination of the 21st Century
Part 5: Across the Border
25. The Future of National and Global (Dis)Order: Exclusive Populism vs. Inclusive Global Governance
26. The Indispensability of Utopias: A Note on Davutoglu
27. Imagining the Right to Peace
28. Peace in World Affairs: Geopolitical and Public Imagination
29. Imagining Global Governance: Alternatives to Trump, Brexit, and New Wars
30. Politics of Compassion in an Age of Ruthless Power