Theorizing practices of prefiguration: learning to inhabit spaces between past and future

Amsler, Sarah (2014) Theorizing practices of prefiguration: learning to inhabit spaces between past and future. In: Reoccupying the Political, 25-26 September 2014, University of Newcastle, Australia.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper explores what it means to be ‘not–yet’ in struggles to resist domination and to democratize institutions, social relationships and everyday life from positions of relative privilege and complex oppression in a capitalist society. It focuses on the time of the present in prefigurative politics, and on how we can learn from political processes of emergence and becoming which often do not look or feel like transformative experiences. It draws both on some work with the German philosopher Enrst Bloch’s philosophy of possibility and my experience of working with an autonomous higher education co-operative in a small city in England, and considers the opportunities and challenges that such a project presents for producing democratic subjectivities and challenging hegemonic social habits and forms. The paper reflects on the difficulties encountered by attempting to define ‘democracy’ within the group, and on the potential usefulness of, and anxiety about, keeping strategic definitions fluid in periods of political incubation. Finally, the paper considers the role that non-‘community’-based, non-‘radical’ educational spaces might play in the cultivation of capacities for political resistance, autonomy and democratic life, and in the creation of democratic publics in contexts where individualism, class division and depoliticization prevail. I am here less concerned with ‘re-occupying’ a political space or theory than with the activity of generating politics as such, and hope to discuss the relationship between these framings and projects.

Keywords:prefigurative politics, Ernst Bloch, social change, co-operative education, autonomy, democratic education
Subjects:L Social studies > L222 Democracy
L Social studies > L370 Social Theory
X Education > X990 Education not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:25554
Deposited On:05 Jan 2017 16:45

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