Subproject III

Theory – Conceptualizing Democratic Imagination

The Subproject Theory constructs the project’s conceptual basis and theoretical framework by elaborating a theory of democratic imagination. Thereby, it also serves as a platform for constant critical self-reflection and mutual exchange between the subprojects, reflecting the findings of Culture and Archive and feeding back to them. Moreover, theory formation itself can contribute to the widening of democratic imaginaries, by taking seriously the theoretical discourses produced by cultural-political activists that are engaged in counter-institutional practices or in creating, establishing, and maintaining counter-institutions.

The subproject is led by Dr Sergej Seitz.

Focal Points of Theory Formation

Democratic Imagination and Democratic Imaginaries

Theory clarifies PREDEF's basic conceptual tools, including 'prefiguration', 'disclosure', and 'pre-enactment'. This conceptual groundwork feeds into a theory of democratic imagination. While there is some literature on political imagination, the issue of specifically democratic imagination has so far been largely neglected, even more so in terms of institutional imagination. To this end, ‘organic theories’ of prefiguration, developed by cultural and political activists (as studied in subproject Culture), are brought into dialogue with academic theories.

Counter-Institutions as Spaces of Democratic Imagination

What does it mean to prefigure democratic futures by engaging in counter-institutional environments and practices? For the theory of democratic imagination, counter-institutions serve as paradigm cases of embodied and realized democratic (counter-)imaginaries.