In this revelatory work, Ruha Benjamin calls on us to take imagination seriously as a site of struggle and a place of possibility for reshaping the future.

Product Code: 9260
ISBN: 9781324020974
Format: Hardback
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Pages: 192
Published Date: 02/06/2024
Availability:In stock
Price: $22.00

A world without prisons? Ridiculous. Schools that foster the genius of every child? Impossible. Work that doesn’t strangle the life out of people? Naive. A society where everyone has food, shelter, love? In your dreams. Exactly. Ruha Benjamin, Princeton University professor, insists that imagination isn’t a luxury. It is a vital resource and powerful tool for collective liberation.

Imagination: A Manifesto is her proclamation that we have the power to use our imaginations to challenge systems of oppression and to create a world in which everyone can thrive. But obstacles abound. We have inherited destructive ideas that trap us inside a dominant imagination. Consider how racism, sexism, and classism make hierarchies, exploitation, and violence seem natural and inevitable - but all emerged from the human imagination.

The most effective way to disrupt these deadly systems is to do so collectively. Benjamin highlights the educators, artists, activists, and many others who are refuting powerful narratives that justify the status quo, crafting new stories that reflect our interconnection, and offering creative approaches to seemingly intractable problems.

Imagination: A Manifesto offers visionary examples and tactics to push beyond the constraints of what we think, and are told, is possible. This book is for anyone who is ready to take to heart Toni Morrison’s instruction: “Dream a little before you think.”

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Introduction Cutting School ”We have to begin to think in different ways”

1. Whose Imagination?
“We are in an imagination battle”
2. Imagining Ourselves
“Nothing has to look or function the way it does”
3. Imagining Eugenics
“Stop making war on those who have a different imagination”
4. Imagining Justice
“We must tap the well of our own collective imaginations”
5. Imagination Incubator
“Utopias tend to be wrong but they can be useful in their wrongness”


"Benjamin’s roving narrative moves nimbly between topics to make her case (at one exemplary point she pauses her analysis of a documentary on creative writing programs for prisoners to note how it reminds her of a line from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go: 'Could a creature without a human spirit create such heart-wrenching paintings?'). It’s a potent exhortation for society to point its dreams toward the collective good." - Publishers Weekly, starred reivew

"Benjamin invites readers to consider a different world, one that the imagination of others tells us is the best of all possible worlds…A provocative manifesto indeed, and one that deserves a wide audience." - Kirkus Reviews

is a lovely volume with a meditation on the power of being human: we can dream, if we only believe that we can." - Tressie McMillan Cottom, author of Thick: And Other Essays

"Only Ruha Benjamin could have written this gift of a book. Science and technology’s most astute social critic, she knows the power of imagination - the incubator of breathtaking beauty and the atomic bomb. Bold, brilliant, and visionary, Benjamin’s manifesto asks us to wage love, to imagine an abolitionist, compassionate, just world against the venal dreams of warmongers and billionaires. An essential weapon in our struggle to save life." - Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

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