This book examines what value, if any, the state has for the pursuit of progressive politics; and how it might need to be reimagined and remade to deliver transformative change.

Is it possible to reimagine the state in ways that open up projects of political transformation? This interdisciplinary collection provides alternative perspectives to the ‘antistatism’ of much critical writing and contemporary political movement activism. Contributors explore ways of reimagining the state that attend critically to the capitalist, neoliberal, gendered and racist conditions of contemporary polities, yet seek to hold onto the state in the process. Drawing on postcolonial, poststructuralist, feminist, queer, Marxist and anarchist thinking, they consider how states might be reread and reclaimed for radical politics. At the heart of this book is state plasticity – the capacity of the state conceptually and materially to take different forms. This plasticity is central to transformational thinking and practice, and to the conditions and labour that allow it to take place. But what can reimagining do; and what difficulties does it confront?

This book will appeal to academics and research students concerned with critical and transformative approaches to state theory, particularly in governance studies, politics and political theory, socio-legal studies, international relations, geography, gender/sexuality, cultural studies and anthropology.

chapter |15 pages


ByDavina Cooper

part I|60 pages

The politics of reimagination

chapter 1|18 pages

The political work of reimagination

ByJanet Newman

chapter 2|20 pages

Reimagining the state

Marxism, feminism, postcolonialism
ByShirin M. Rai

chapter 3|20 pages

State as pharmakon

ByNikita Dhawan

part II|74 pages

Performing re-readings

chapter 4|18 pages

Why Africa’s ‘weak states’ matter

A postcolonial critique of Euro-Western discourse on African statehood and sovereignty
ByAnna Maria Krämer

chapter 5|17 pages

The ethical state?

ByMaría do Mar Castro Varela

chapter 6|19 pages

Christian Israel

ByDidi Herman

chapter 7|18 pages

Using the master’s tools

Rights and radical politics
ByRuth Kinna

part III|59 pages

Prefigurative practices

chapter 8|18 pages

Anticipatory representation

Thinking art and museums as platforms of resourceful statecraft
ByChiara De Cesari

chapter 9|20 pages

Conceptual prefiguration and municipal radicalism

Reimagining what it could mean to be a state
ByDavina Cooper

chapter 10|19 pages

Regulating with social justice in mind

An experiment in reimagining the state
ByMorag McDermont

part IV|64 pages

Reimagining otherwise

chapter 11|18 pages

Harmful thoughts

Reimagining the coercive state?
ByJohn Clarke

chapter 12|20 pages

Border abolition and how to achieve it

ByNick Gill

chapter 13|12 pages

Refusal first, then reimagination

Presenting the Burn in Flames Post-Patriarchal Archive in Circulation
BySarah Browne, Jesse Jones

chapter |12 pages

Concluding reflections

ByJanet Newman, Nikita Dhawan