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Research Group Aesthetic Imaginaries

About the research group

The idea of the imaginary circulates in various constellations, most frequently, perhaps, in the company of the social and the political (e.g. C. Taylor, P. Gaonkar, B. Anderson). The co-constitutive complex of the social imaginary’s enabling and enabled matrix must however find its outlet in arrangements less tangible than those institutionalized and formalized, and herein reside the promises of aesthetics. Its function and potential in conjunction with the imaginary is not well explored, but one of the few, if not the only formulation of what is at stake in aesthetic imaginaries is the following by Ranjan Ghosh. Aesthetic imaginaries, he says,

aggregate around dwellings in culture, social practice, characters of imaginative reconstruction, affiliations to religious and spiritual denominations and preferences. An aesthetic imaginary is built inside the borders of a nation, a culture, a society, a tradition or an inheritance, but it disaggregates and reconstructs itself when exposed to the callings and constraints of cross-border epistemic and cultural circulations. Aesthetic imaginaries then are entangled figurations bearing out the promise of ‘shared realities’ and what Toni Morrison calls ‘shareable imaginative worlds’ [1992, xii]. (2015, 134)

Taking our cue from this description, “Aesthetic Imaginaries” gathers scholars working in different areas (including but not limited to literature, film, cultural studies, anthropology, creative writing, curating), to think further about how and what, and when, aesthetic imaginaries mean as they work alongside, against, and with the realities from which they invariably transpire. To think through “aesthetic imaginaries” consequently means emphasizing aesthetics as creation and figuration, field and practice, affective expression and experience, form and function.


Works cited:
Castoriadis, Cornelius. The Imaginary Institution of Society, Polity Press, 2005.
Ghosh, Ranjan. “The Figure that Robert Frost’s Poetics Make: Singularity and Sanskrit Poetic Theory,” Singularity and Transnational Poetics, ed. Birgit Mara Kaiser, Routledge, 2005, 134  - 154.