Chiara Bottici - "Imaginal Politics" Social Science and Cultural Studies Speakers Series

4:46 PM

Social Science and Cultural Studies Speakers Series 
Chiara Bottici 
Assistant Professor Philosophy
New School for Social Research 

 "Imaginal Politics"

 Tuesday October 1, 2013, 5:30pm 
Seminar Room, Dekalb 208


Chiara Bottici is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. She is the author of Imaginal Politics, forthcoming from New Directions in Critical Theory Series at Columbia University Press, which explores the link between our capacity to produce images and politics in the current predicament. She also wrote A Philosophy of Political Myth, published by Cambridge University Press in 2007; and Uomini e stati. Percorsi di un'analogia (ETS, 2004), which was translated into English as Men and States (Palgrave, 2009). She is also co-author, with Benoit Challand, of Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory, Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations (Routledge, 2010). With Benoit Challand, she also co-edited a collection of essays entitled The Politics of Imagination (Routledge, 2011).

How can we explain the paradox of a political world full of images but increasingly deprived of imagination understood as the radical capacity to begin something new? By developing the concept of imaginal, understood as an intermediate space between imagination and the imaginary, I will explore the imaginal nature of politics as well as that of its contemporary transformations. Whereas imagination is a faculty that we possess and the imaginary is a domain that possesses us, the imaginal, understood as what is made of images, of (re)presentations that are presences in themselves, is not the sign of a lack, but rather of an abundance. Yet, the exponential quantitative increase in the number of images that mediate our political world, has now produced a new quality, a change in the intimate nature of politics itself, which is increasingly reduced to an empty spectacle. Together with the spectacularisation of politics, comes its increasing virtualization, as images, in the contemporary epoch, are no longer objects given once for all, but rather processes. Although the revolution of the new individual media can perhaps open new roads towards a  democratization of the image, a different scenario is disclosed by the current biopolitical turn: that of a global society of the spectacle where the cloned image is no longer what mediates our political life, but rather what risks doing politics in our stead.

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