The Radical Imagination – now out (+excerpts)

We’re thrilled to announce the publication of our book The Radical Imagination: Social Movement Research in the Age of Austerity, now out from Zed Books and Fernwood Publishing.

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Summary

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, 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?

This book seeks to answer these questions at a crucial time. As we enter into a new cycle of struggles marked by a worldwide crisis of social reproduction, scholar-activists Max Haiven and Alex Khasnabish explore the processes and possibilities for cultivating the radical imagination in dark times.

A lively and crucial intervention in radical politics, social research and social change, and the collective visions and cultures that inspire them.

This book is an ethnographically-informed work of critical theory and movement reflections based on our ongoing work with the Radical Imagination Project.

Chapters

Introduction: The Importance of the Radical Imagination in Dark Times

Part One: Solidarity Research

  • 1. The Methods of Movements: Academic Crisis and Activist Strategy
  • 2. Convoking the Radical Imagination

Part Two: Dwelling in the Hiatus

  • 3. The Crisis of Reproduction
  • 4. Reimagining Success and Failure

Part Three: Making Space, Making Time

  • 5. The Life and Times of Radical Movements
  • 6. The Temporalities of Oppression

Part Four: The Methods of Movements

  • 7. Imagination, Strategy and Tactics
  • 8. Towards a Prefigurative Methodology

Endorsements

‘I deserted the academy for activism over ten years ago, but this book reminds me that there are some scholars who really do radicalize their research processes so that the university once again becomes a tool of post-capitalist struggle rather than a feather in the neoliberal crown. A timely reminder for scholars to get their hands dirty, immerse themselves in radical movements and write for change rather than academic careers.’
John Jordan, artist, activist and co-founder of the direct action protest movement Reclaim the Streets.

‘For Haiven and Khasnabish the ‘Radical Imagination’ is the most important tool of resistance to neoliberal capitalism. Drawing on a breathtaking range of examples, they urge us to learn from and understand the knowledge produced within radical political movements. This impressive book is a must-read for those committed to radical social change and concerned with producing alternate worlds.’
Imogen Tyler, senior lecturer of sociology, Lancaster University and author of Revolting Subjects

‘The Radical Imagination offers astute insights into the ways capitalism and crisis constrain our social and political imaginaries. This is a compelling book, highly readable and full of possibility. A welcome contribution to the kinds of engaged research needed right now.’
Emma Dowling, senior lecturer in sociology, Middlesex University

‘Theoretically sophisticated and politically grounded, The Radical Imagination challenges us to think beyond the limits of both contemporary social movement organizing and scholarship.’
Lesley Wood, assistant professor of sociology, York University

‘This book is an important and thought-provoking tool for activists and scholars. It is a sort of dialogical manual, bringing the reader into a conversation on what the radical imagination is and can be. While questioning, the authors suggest alternative ways of thinking about important issues, such as the meaning of success, failure, research and methodology – all from below, and grounded in the thoughts and experiences of others involved in movements.’
Marina Sitrin, author of They Can’t Represent Us! and Everyday Revolutions

‘The Radical Imagination is a fantastic resource for both social movements and the scholars who study them. It insists that social transformation requires research and that the process of research should itself be transformative. It crackles with new ideas and innovative approaches while asking that most important of questions: what would it mean for social movements to win?’
Keir Milburn, lecturer in political economy and organisation, University of Leicester, and co-author of Moments of Excess: Movements, Protests and Everyday Life.

Excerpts, Reviews and interviews

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