Radical media, politics and culture.

CFP Affinities #4 – What is Radical Imagination: Horizons beyond “The Crisis”

CFP Affinities #4 – What is Radical Imagination: Horizons beyond “The Crisis” Edited by Alex Khasnabish and Max Haiven

The social crises of neoliberalism, so evident and provocative throughout the rest of the world, have finally come "home" to the global North in the form of a cataclysmic financial crisis wreaking havoc on the lives of people, workers and communities, intensifying already intolerable injustices and inequalities and justifying the intensification of surveillance, policing and militarization.

However, we have yet to see here the rise of radical mass political activity that has marked the landscape of political contention and alternative-building in the global South. From the Zapatista uprising to water and AIDS activism in sub-Saharan and southern Africa to general strikes in Korea to the Bolivarian revolution, the last 15 years has seen radical mass mobilizations animated (if not caused) by concrete and radical hope for a globalization from below. Yet in the North the question that has plagued Left scholars since the 60s has taken on new salience and urgency: why, in the face of increasing inequality, precariousness and exploitation, in the face, even, of imminent ecological collapse, do North American elites and governments enjoy reckless accumulation untroubled by mass movements demanding radical social and political change?

This issue of Affinities focuses on the importance of radical imagination to radical social change. On the one hand, imagination brings to mind utopian fancy, a dangerous and demobilizing escapism, and forms of collective or subjective delusion which perpetuate the status-quo. Yet on the other, the ability to imagine the world, social institutions and human (and non-human) relationships otherwise is vital to any radical project. Indeed, as numerous commentators and theorists point out, we can’t do without the radical imagination, both on the level of our movements and on the level of our everyday lives.

This issue approaches imagination as a process by which we collectively map “what is,” narrate it as the result of “what was,” and speculate on what “might be.” And while it is a terrain of political struggle it is not merely “ideology,” a term haunted by its dubious political legacies. Rather imagination represents a more rich, agentful, complex and ongoing working-out of affinity, of the fundamentally political and always collective (though rarely autonomous) labour of reweaving the social world. This issue, then takes up the question of the radical imagination as horizons of socio-political possibility, dynamic and shared visions animating and animated by individuals and collectives in struggle which guide their movements toward and create new social worlds..

In a moment where the neoliberal doctrine of “the end of history” and the mantra “there is no alternative” stumble over massive financial crisis (over the chasm of even more profound social and ecological crises), what are the possibilities and perils of the radical imagination? What is this mysterious thing, so often spoken of or gestured towards but so seldom analyzed? What is the relation of radical imagination to radical practice? To radical thought and criticism? To radical forms of and experiments in affinity, solidarity and activism? How and where is the radical imagination manifest? Are there criteria by which we can evaluate acts and expressions of the radical imagination? (i.e. is it always a good thing? What makes it “radical”? When? Where? How?) In a moment when elites have turned to hollow invocations of hope, imagination, and possibility, how is the (radical) imagination being colonized by the cultural and everyday matrixes of power relations? By the media? By racism? By patriarchy? By colonialism? By capitalism? How can this colonization be fought? At a time when most of the Left seems all too eager to sacrifice it on the altar of a ubiquitous and tepid neo-Keynesianism, how can radical imagination be shared, taught, learned or written? Is radical imagination worth talking about at all?

At risk of demystifying a term whose mystique may be worth defending this themed issue asks contributors to grapple with the radical imagination by bringing the concept into dialogue with struggles (or their absences), past or present primarily though not exclusively in the global “North.” More than just an itinerary of examples of radical imagination, this issue asks contributors to reflect critically on these examples towards a better understanding of what radical imagination might be.

We invite contributions which contribute to the discussion of “what is the radical imagination” by focusing on concrete sites of struggle, particularly (but not exclusively) in the global North. Of particular interest are:

Indigenous and anti-colonial struggles Migrant and migrant workers' struggles New forms and spaces of affinity and autonomy, temporary or permanent New directions in peace, anti-war, anti-militarism and anti-Empire organizing New forms of labour organizing (Workers' centres, radical workers' networks, the IWW resurgence, etc.) New forms of feminist (anti-)globalization Emergent or resurgent anti-capitalist tendencies New anarchist(ic) initiatives New forms of Queer and trans- organizing Radical cultural, social or literary practices/interventions

We encourage and anticipate a wide variety of disciplinary, theoretical and methodological approaches and especially encourages contributions from those outside academe. In this vein, the editors look forward to receiving

Essays of 8,000 words or less (to be forwarded for blind peer review - please remove all identifying marks and include a 150 word abstract)

Interviews with activists, writers or others of between 1,000-8,000 words 750-1,500 word pungent interventions

Creative and non-traditional offerings (please keep in mind the limits of Affinities’ web-based format)

Contributors should consult the Affinities style guide at http://affinitiesjournal.org/index.php/affinities/about/submissions#auth...

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2009. Submissions can be made via the journal website at www.affinitiesjournal.org. Information on the submission process and formatting requirements is available on the site.

Please do not hesitate to direct inquires or pitch ideas to the issue editors at: Alex Khasnabish: Alex.Khasnabish@msvu.ca and Max Haiven: haivenmf@mcmaster.ca

For more information about Affinities, visit http://affinitiesjournal.org/