In the autumn of 2011 and the spring of 2012, the Occupy London protests, informed by the ideal of a moral, territorially defined community, caught the imagination of British and global publics. For a short while, this moral imaginary was mobilized to contest some of the most glaring contradictions of the neo-liberal city. I argue that the Occupy protests in London registered a sense of public outrage at the violation of certain 'sacred' norms associated with what it means to live with others. More concretely, I contend that Occupy London was an experiment initiated to open out questions of community, morality, and politics and to consider how these notions might be put to work. These questions were not merely articulated intellectually among expert interlocutors. They were lived out through the spatially and temporally embodied occupation of urban space.
Between Capital and Community
Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble has been one of the most influential theoretical works of the past twenty-five years. Both within and without philosophy, it is a touchstone for discussions of subjectivity and identity of all kinds. In her writings, and in conversation, Butler has made clear her indebtedness to the phenomenological and existential tradition, while revising it within a poststructuralist framework. In this article, I explore just one strand of that indebtedness by comparing the performative account of gender identity, which she offers in Gender Trouble, with the imaginary personages which form the basis of Sartre’s account of individual and social identities. I suggest that some of the problems encountered by performative accounts are a consequence of this inheritance.
Mark J.P. Wolf
Just as perceptual gestalten complete images and narrative gestalten complete storylines, both encouraging audiences to fill in missing information based on the information provided, the data pertaining to an imaginary world can collectively generate a world logic that helps audiences extrapolate and fill in gaps, resulting in the illusion of a complete and consistent imaginary world, through we what might call world gestalten. This article examines how these gestalten occur and function, how they contribute to the illusion of a complete world, and the importance of this process to transmedial entertainment franchises that are set in imaginary worlds.
Laura Louise Sarauw
Critics often see the European Bologna Process as a univocal standardisation of higher education. By exploring how different qualifications frameworks project different social imaginaries of globalisation, this article takes a different stance. The overarching qualifications framework of the Bologna Process rests on a socially constituted and contested concept of globalisation as a change towards a more diverse and unforeseeable world, which calls for the development of flexible, lifelong learners with a broad knowledge base and strong democratic competencies. Although this social imaginary is widely known, I argue that it is also highly contested. For example, the Danish qualifications framework of 2003 projects a social imaginary of globalisation as a change towards a smaller and more predictable world, which enables a novel and more efficient alignment of the curriculum towards specific professional needs, and where the development of a broad knowledge base and democratic competencies are no longer prioritised.
Alain Finkelkraut has interrogated contemporary Jewish identity in terms of how a Jew reckons with the heavy impact of the Holocaust and in fact with the entire history of the Jewish people. Finkelkraut takes issue with Sartre’s 1947 essay, Anti-Semite and Jew, not for its content but the effect that it has had on him. “Let there be no misunderstanding: I am not attacking the book that Sartre wrote on the Jewish problem,” asserts the author in a footnote (JI 17, my translation). Instead, he shows how the philosopher aids in the creation of what Finkelkraut terms “the imaginary Jew.”
*Article translated by Matthew Roy
This article explores French imaginaries of different human groups between the world wars through a study of the Larousse universel of 1922. Dictionaries are generally assumed to be reliable tools for understanding language, reflecting a single, universally accepted, and neutral norm. In fact, as this article demonstrates, the Larousse universel of 1922 conveys an imaginary of otherness very specific to the time and place of its publication. Analyzing ethnonyms (names of peoples or ethnic groups) and demonyms or gentilics (names for residents or natives of a particular place) as well as the associated illustrations, I provide a typology of the dictionary’s treatment of the otherness of different peoples. Exoticism, colonization, war, and zoology emerge as the four themes around which human groups are concentrated. In particular, the predominance of the semantic feature warlike reveals the worry suggested by “the foreign” in the aftermath of World War I.
The cosmologies implicated in sorcery practice are human-centric. Within them, human beings are at the heart of processes that are integral in the formation of their psychical, social and political universes. Sorcery fetishises human agency, often one which it magically enhances, as the key mediating factor affecting the course or direction of human life-chances. The fabulous character of so much sorcery practice, its transgressive and unbounded dimensions, a rich symbolism that appears to press towards and beyond the limits of the human imagination, is surely connected to the overpowering and totalising impetus that sorcery recognises in human agency and capacities. Sorcery is that magical additional force that unites with the intentional direction of human beings into their realities – a creative and destructive directionality. Such sorcery must needs affect the lives of others because of their co-presence, their ongoing involvement in each other’s life circumstances.
Evolution has equipped us with the ability to conceive of people and their actions in hypothetical, purely fictional, and fantastic scenarios. The way we conceive of real people, the way we make sense of fictional character, and the way we process needs and desires related to other people in our fantasies are all interconnected with one another. These are all instances of blending, often based on rather minimal direct information but supported by shared character-related schemata and mental simulation, the latter typically eliciting a degree of partial identification. The structural relationships and interconnectedness between these three processes can be examined in terms of the formalist notion of motivation.
Graphic Constructions of the Carceral Archipelago
The article offers an overview of the history and cultural representations in visual media from the 1860s onwards of French penal colonies or bagnes, and their status as graphic lieux de mémoire. It focuses specifically on French Guiana and New Caledonia and seeks to contextualise the portrayal of the motif in a varied corpus of bandes dessinées. The article argues that graphic history provides a unique forum in which aspects of the penal colonies about which there is little understanding – the transcolonial itineraries of convicts; the penal everyday; the role of carceral heritage as part of a useable past – are elucidated. Although some works primarily foreground celebrity bagnards such as Eugène Dieudonné or Henri Charrière (Papillon), albums such as those of Stéphane Blanco and Laurent Perrin allow the potential of the bande dessinée to create connections that are multilayered and multidirectional.
The Politics of Life after Earth
This article examines the reinvigoration of outer space imaginaries in the era of global environmental change, and the impacts of these imaginaries on Earth. Privatized space research mobilizes fears of ecological, political, or economic catastrophe to garner support for new utopian futures, or the search for Earth 2.0. These imaginaries reflect dominant global discourses about environmental and social issues, and enable the flow of earthly resources toward an extraterrestrial frontier. In contrast, eco-centric visions emerging from Gaia theory or feminist science fiction project post-earthly life in terms that are ecological, engaged in multispecies relations and ethics, and anticapitalist. In these imaginaries, rather than centering humans as would-be destroyers or saviors of Earth, our species becomes merely instrumental in launching life—a multispecies process—off the planet, a new development in deep evolutionary time. This article traces these two imaginaries and how they are reshaping material and political earthly life.