European Journal of Political Theory 13 (4):408-426 (2014)

James Grant
Portland State University
Over the past decade there has been a remarkable expansion in the use of ‘imaginaries’ as a guiding concept in and beyond political theory. But the proliferation of this term has gone largely unchecked by critical investigations into its deployment. To correct this I address the work of Charles Taylor, Michael Warner and Chiara Bottici, each of whom has written influential texts on imaginaries and the sites of imaginaries. Interestingly, their reliance on imaginaries does not compel them to do away with older modes of thinking such as ideology critique and dialectical thought. Yet what remains of these enduring modes has been sanitized, their radical commitments scarcely pursued. I proceed by conducting an immanent critique of each author’s work, revealing troublesome pre-critical and instrumentalist features that lead to political phenomena being misrepresented or going unidentified entirely. In addition I elaborate modes of dialectical thought and ideology critique that avoid these difficulties and produce the types of critical insights absent from these texts
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DOI 10.1177/1474885113519259
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