The Radical Imagination

The idea of the imagination is as evocative as it is elusive. Not only does the imagination allow us to project ourselves beyond our own immediate space and time, but it also allows us to envision the future, as individuals and as collectives.

The radical imagination, then, is that spark of difference, desire and discontent that can be fanned into the flames of social change. Yet what precisely is the imagination and what might make it ‘radical’? How can it be fostered and cultivated? How can it be studied and what are the possibilities and risks of doing so?

The Radical Imagination: Social Movement Research in the Age of Austerity, my book with Alex Khasnabish, seeks to answer these questions at a crucial time. As we enter into a cycle of struggles marked by a worldwide crisis of social reproduction, we explore the processes in possibilities for cultivating the radical imagination in dark times.

The Radical Imagination is based our experiences in the course of the Radical Imagination Project and expands and develops some of the ideas we have explored in articles like “What is the Radical Imagination: A Special Issue” (Affinities, 2010),  “Convoking the Radical Imagination: Social Movement Research, Dialogic Methodologies, and Scholarly Vocations” (Cultural Studies<=>Critical Methodologies, 2012) and “Between Success and Failure:  Dwelling with Social Movements in the Hiatus” (Interface: A Journal for and About Social Movements, 2013).

The Radical Imagination is a lively and crucial intervention in radical politics and social research, one that illuminates the collective visions and cultures that inspire social change. It is complemented by our follow-up, What Moves Us: The Lives & Times of the Radical Imagination, which brings together a diverse group of scholar-activists and movement-based thinkers and practitioners to reflect on the relationship between the radical imagination and radical social change. In original essays and interviews, these radical thinkers from across Canada and beyond contemplate the birth of their own radical consciousness and the political and intellectual commitments that animate their activism.

Max Haiven is Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, Co-Director of the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL), and Associate Professor of English at Lakehead University, and author of books such as, The Radical Imagination: Social Movement Research in the Age of Austerity and What Moves Us: The Lives & Times of the Radical Imagination (both with Alex Khasnabish).