1. In what follows, the expressions po liti cal imaginary, historical imaginary,
and historico- political imaginary will be used to refer to a practical mode of
intelligibility of politics and history. An imaginary, in this sense, is not simply
phantasmagorical or a pure product of the imagination. It is also irreducible
to classic conceptions of ideology, if they be repre sentational, functional, or
material. An imaginary is si multaneously theoretical and practical; it is a way
of thinking that is also a way of being and acting. Furthermore, it traverses the
vari ous dimensions of social existence, including values, norms, affects, and
repre sentations. It is the ingrained modus operandi of social agents, which is
part of interstitial cultural fabric rather than being imposed only from above or
being purely subjective. This does not mean that it operates like an inescapable
framework à la Pierre Macherey’s “infra- ideology,” but it does tend to function
as a sociocultural given inscribed within the practical common sense of par-
tic u lar communities (see Pierre Macherey, Le Sujet des normes [Paris: Éditions
Amsterdam, 2014]). It is not necessarily bounded, however, by the supposed
horizons of specific socie ties or cultures. For an impor tant and thoughtful
debate on the category of the imaginary in con temporary social theory, which
draws most notably on the work of Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort, Paul
Ricœur, and Charles Taylor, see Social Imaginaries 1, no. 1 (2015).
2. On slums, see the 2003 United Nations report The Challenge of the Slums,
as well as Mike Davis, “Planet of Slums,” New Left Review 26 (March–
April 2004). Regarding the global distribution of wealth, refer to Oxfam’s
recent report: “The gap between rich and poor is reaching new extremes.
Crédit Suisse recently revealed that the richest 1% have now accumulated
more wealth than the rest of the world put together. [ . . . ] Meanwhile,
the wealth owned by the bottom half of humanity has fallen by a trillion
dollars in the past five years. This is just the latest evidence that today we
live in a world with levels of in equality we may not have seen for over a
century. [ . . . ] In 2015, just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.6 billion
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