Prefiguring Democratic Futures

Cultural and Theoretical Responses to the Crisis of Political Imagination

PREDEF is a Horizon ERC Advanced Grant research project funded by the European Union running until September 2027. A research team led by the Principal Investigator Professor Oliver Marchart explores the democratizing potential of cultural and artistic practices and institutions and learns from alternative configurations of the past.

Democracy is in a crisis of global scale. This crisis has variously been attributed to a loss of belief in political representation, the rising of technocratic ‘post-democracy’, or an authoritarian and populist turn. PREDEF assumes that these observations not only indicate a crisis of the political system, but, more fundamentally, a crisis of political imagination. Political imagination withers under the neoliberal hegemony of the ‘TINA-principle,’ that is, the ideological belief that 'there is no alternative'. It has become increasingly difficult to imagine democratic futures. PREDEF thus intervenes at the intersection of cultural research and democratic theory. The aim is to revive the horizon of democratic possibilities by exploring potentials for deepening democracy. To this end, the project turns to the fields of culture, art and intellectual history to extend our democratic imaginary and disclose institutional alternatives. The project thus reaches beyond the minimal institutional framework of Western liberal democracy. Its aim is to provide new analyses that expand the horizon of political, specifically institutional imagination.




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