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An Introduction to Prefigurative Politics
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The gloomy prospect of climate change and ecosystems’ collapse calls for an urgent rethinking of all aspects of our life: how we work, produce, eat, spend, take care of each other, relate to nature, and organize our societies.

Prefigurative initiatives are attracting a growing amount of attention from scholars and activists precisely because they are envisioning alternative futures by embodying radically different ways of living in the present.

Thanks to the contribution of leading researchers, ‘The Future is Now’ represents the go-to book for anyone seeking a comprehensive, state-of-the-art, and thought-provoking introduction to the thriving field of prefigurative politics.

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This edited volume aims to provide an accessible and interdisciplinary introduction to the concept of prefigurative politics. The idea for this collaborative project came from the realization that, despite the increasing popularity of the term across the Social Sciences, it is hard to find articles or books that, instead of taking its meaning for granted, aim explicitly at introducing, defining and discussing it. Gathering a set of short and incisive contributions from prominent experts, this book is divided into three parts. It begins with a Foreword by post-development scholar Arturo Escobar and closes with an Afterword by Davina Cooper, a leading researcher on transformative politics. The first part of the book offers an historical, philosophical, and theoretical introduction to prefigurative politics. The second part examines prefigurative politics “in practice” through case-studies and examples from social movements, civil society initiatives, and other alternative organizations. Among these, we find the long-lived intentional community of Auroville in India and the matristic Jineolojî eco-communes in Kurdish Rojava. The third and final part constitutes a meta-reflection on the challenges and opportunities that researchers encounter while studying prefigurative politics. In particular, contributors problematize the booming of prefigurative research in the last decade, they underline the different temporalities that one should take into account while assessing the impact of prefigurative movements, and, finally, they outline five main challenges that prefiguration researchers should address in the near future. In sum, this edited volume represents the ideal companion for students and researchers interested in exploring the thriving and vibrant field of research on prefigurative politics.

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This edited volume aims to provide an accessible and interdisciplinary introduction to the concept of prefigurative politics. The idea for this collaborative project came from the realization that, despite the increasing popularity of the term across the Social Sciences, it is hard to find articles or books that, instead of taking its meaning for granted, aim explicitly at introducing, defining and discussing it. Gathering a set of short and incisive contributions from prominent experts, this book is divided into three parts. It begins with a Foreword by post-development scholar Arturo Escobar and closes with an Afterword by Davina Cooper, a leading researcher on transformative politics. The first part of the book offers an historical, philosophical, and theoretical introduction to prefigurative politics. The second part examines prefigurative politics “in practice” through case-studies and examples from social movements, civil society initiatives, and other alternative organizations. Among these, we find the long-lived intentional community of Auroville in India and the matristic Jineolojî eco-communes in Kurdish Rojava. The third and final part constitutes a meta-reflection on the challenges and opportunities that researchers encounter while studying prefigurative politics. In particular, contributors problematize the booming of prefigurative research in the last decade, they underline the different temporalities that one should take into account while assessing the impact of prefigurative movements, and, finally, they outline five main challenges that prefiguration researchers should address in the near future. In sum, this edited volume represents the ideal companion for students and researchers interested in exploring the thriving and vibrant field of research on prefigurative politics.

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This edited volume aims to provide an accessible and interdisciplinary introduction to the concept of prefigurative politics. The idea for this collaborative project came from the realization that, despite the increasing popularity of the term across the Social Sciences, it is hard to find articles or books that, instead of taking its meaning for granted, aim explicitly at introducing, defining and discussing it. Gathering a set of short and incisive contributions from prominent experts, this book is divided into three parts. It begins with a Foreword by post-development scholar Arturo Escobar and closes with an Afterword by Davina Cooper, a leading researcher on transformative politics. The first part of the book offers an historical, philosophical, and theoretical introduction to prefigurative politics. The second part examines prefigurative politics “in practice” through case-studies and examples from social movements, civil society initiatives, and other alternative organizations. Among these, we find the long-lived intentional community of Auroville in India and the matristic Jineolojî eco-communes in Kurdish Rojava. The third and final part constitutes a meta-reflection on the challenges and opportunities that researchers encounter while studying prefigurative politics. In particular, contributors problematize the booming of prefigurative research in the last decade, they underline the different temporalities that one should take into account while assessing the impact of prefigurative movements, and, finally, they outline five main challenges that prefiguration researchers should address in the near future. In sum, this edited volume represents the ideal companion for students and researchers interested in exploring the thriving and vibrant field of research on prefigurative politics.

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The purpose of this chapter is to elaborate on the concept of prefiguration by outlining the necessity of its contribution to bring progressive social change and transcend contemporary capitalism through a process of erosion from within. It is argued that prefigurative politics entails a holistic (from the Greek holos, meaning ‘whole’ or ‘entire’) approach to social change that digs its roots in feminist and ecological thought and focuses on social reproduction and the preservation of life rather than solely on economic production. By referring to recent scholarly work on real utopias and alternatives to capitalism (for example, by Nancy Fraser and Erik Olin Wright), the chapter contends that prefigurative politics constitutes a fundamental and necessary component of any political strategy aimed at transcending contemporary capitalism since it conceives progressive social change in an ontologically and epistemologically different way with respect to political parties and protest movements. Taking this into consideration, it is concluded that conventional politics and prefigurative politics can be seen as having the potential to mutually reinforce each other.

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The introduction provides the reader with an overview of the rationale, structure and contents of the book, which is includes a foreword by Arturo Escobar, 15 central chapters, and an afterword by Davina Cooper. The introduction begins by outlining the origins and usefulness of prefigurative politics today and then highlights some of the recurring themes connecting the chapters, including: the relationship between prefigurative politics, state bodies and capitalism; the transformative mechanism of ‘erosion from within’, typical of prefiguration; the challenges of assessing prefigurative initiatives’ capacity to bring progressive social change; the critiques pointing at prefiguration’s exclusionary and insular character; and the need to decolonize the epistemological lenses through which scholars are studying prefigurative politics. Following a brief summary of the 15 chapters, the introduction closes by underlining the vibrancy and interdisciplinarity of this field of research, which is set to keep growing given the necessity to envision more just and sustainable futures.

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