Reimagining the State : Theoretical Challenges and Transformative Possibilities book cover
1st Edition

Reimagining the State
Theoretical Challenges and Transformative Possibilities

ISBN 9780815382195
Published August 12, 2019 by Routledge
290 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book examines what value, if any, the state has for the pursuit of progressive politics; and how it might need to be reimagined and remade to deliver transformative change.

Is it possible to reimagine the state in ways that open up projects of political transformation? This interdisciplinary collection provides alternative perspectives to the ‘antistatism’ of much critical writing and contemporary political movement activism. Contributors explore ways of reimagining the state that attend critically to the capitalist, neoliberal, gendered and racist conditions of contemporary polities, yet seek to hold onto the state in the process. Drawing on postcolonial, poststructuralist, feminist, queer, Marxist and anarchist thinking, they consider how states might be reread and reclaimed for radical politics. At the heart of this book is state plasticity – the capacity of the state conceptually and materially to take different forms. This plasticity is central to transformational thinking and practice, and to the conditions and labour that allow it to take place. But what can reimagining do; and what difficulties does it confront?

This book will appeal to academics and research students concerned with critical and transformative approaches to state theory, particularly in governance studies, politics and political theory, socio-legal studies, international relations, geography, gender/sexuality, cultural studies and anthropology.

Table of Contents


List of contributors


Davina Cooper


The politics of reimagination

1 The political work of reimagination

Janet Newman

2 Reimagining the state: Marxism, feminism, postcolonialism

Shirin M. Rai

3 State as pharmakon

Nikita Dhawan


Performing re-readings

4 Why Africa’s ‘weak states’ matter: A postcolonial critique of Euro-Western discourse on African statehood and sovereignty

Anna Maria Krämer

5 The ethical state?

María do Mar Castro Varela

6 Christian Israel

Didi Herman

7 Using the master’s tools: Rights and radical politics

Ruth Kinna


Prefigurative practices

8 Anticipatory representation: Thinking art and museums as platforms of resourceful statecraft

Chiara De Cesari

9 Conceptual prefiguration and municipal radicalism: Reimagining what it could mean to be a state

Davina Cooper

10 Regulating with social justice in mind: An experiment in reimagining the state

Morag McDermont and the Productive Margins Collective


Reimagining otherwise

11 Harmful thoughts: Reimagining the coercive state?

John Clarke

12 Border abolition and how to achieve it

Nick Gill

13 Refusal first, then reimagination: Presenting the Burn in Flames Post-Patriarchal Archive in Circulation

Sarah Browne and Jesse Jones

Concluding reflections

Janet Newman and Nikita Dhawan

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Davina Cooper is a Research Professor in Law and Political Theory, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London.

Read our interview with Davina here:

Nikita Dhawan is Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies at the University of Gießen, Germany.

Janet Newman is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Open University, UK.