Imagination and the Decolonial Turn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


The choice of the concept of social imaginaries as an approach to research has important epistemological and ontological consequences. The term is long known in political and cultural philosophy (Castoriadis, Anderson, Appadurai), but was updated more recently by Charles Taylor in Modern Social Imaginaries (2004) and Chiara Bottici. In her Imaginal Poltics the latter shows that phenomenology is best placed to allow imagination to function as an instrument of social critique.
With the concept of social imaginaries Charles Taylor wanted to find an adequate formulation of how people imagine society. The imaginary can be described as a generally shared moral conception of the ideal society. Morality is about what is morally right, but also about moral freedom of choice. What are people's expectations for themselves and for others, and what are the deeper normative notions and images that underlie them? An important dimension of the concept of social imaginaries is that this is more than a theory that is supposed to underlie social life. Social imaginaries are the common concept that enables common practices and a widely supported sense of legitimacy, says Taylor. In this sense, a social imaginary is not a 'canon' of objective knowledge that characterizes a culture, but a set of ideas and ideals that are seen as meaningful and correct.
I think it is important to recognize also the possible consequences of making imagination and social imagination central to the so-called decolonial turn. Imagination, as part of a phenomenological approach to social and political topics, is given an important role here as a critical tool.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 66thInternational Congress of Phenomenology
Subtitle of host publicationBook of Abstracts
Place of PublicationMilaan
PublisherThe World Phenomenology Institute
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2022
EventEco-Imagination for a Sustainable Future - IULM Universita, Milano, Italy
Duration: 26 Oct 202229 Oct 2022


ConferenceEco-Imagination for a Sustainable Future


  • Phenomenology, Imagination


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