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Culture, inequality and the bureaucratic imagination: states and subjects for a new millenium

Saris, A. Jamie (2007) Culture, inequality and the bureaucratic imagination: states and subjects for a new millenium. Irish Journal of Anthropology (Special Edition), 10 (2). pp. 54-60.

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Abstract

In this paper, I want to make a case for imagination as a ubiquitous, but neglected, modality in social life. Unfortunately, in such a short piece, I will not be able to offer anything like a comprehensive examination of such a complex term. Even confining ourselves to English-language speculation, for example, such a summary would still be huge. Just in the space between Hobbes’s rather lame sense of imagination as decaying sense (1992 [1651]) and Locke’s subtly subversive understanding of reflection (1700), imagination emerged as the spectre haunting anglophone philosophy’s empiricism. It is, arguably, one of the most interesting words in the English language and, while it appears in variations in parts of modern anthropology (such as ‘imaginary’ derived from the work of Lacan), its more natural language sense as a potential of certain kinds of thought is less well researched. In particular, the sense of this term denoting a way of visualizing a hoped-for better future – perhaps best expressed by one of the slogans connected to the wave of protests loosely referred to as ‘anti-capitalist’, that is, another world is possible – is less commonly examined. My interest in this paper, then, is in thinking about how we actively imagine the world in which we actually live, especially the connections within this global moment we are least inclined to see. If there is a slogan connected to my argument, it would run something like: this world is here because we are actively making it. Thus, there is a grimmer side to the case I am making – we are well along the road of imagining a world that is pretty unpleasant, and we had better start to understand some of the ways that this is actually done, if we want to go about changing it.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Culture; inequality; bureaucratic imagination;
Subjects: Social Sciences > Anthropology
Item ID: 1123
Depositing User: Dr. A. Jamie Saris
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2009 14:58
Journal or Publication Title: Irish Journal of Anthropology (Special Edition)
Publisher: The Anthropological Association of Ireland (AAI)
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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