chapter  9
13 Pages

Cracking imaginaries: Studying the global from Canadian space


In Local Histories/Global Designs, Walter Mignolo (2000: 23) turns away from the widely accepted (within poststructuralist circles) Lacanian notion of the Imaginary (contrasted with the Symbolic and the Real) to adopt instead a usage formulated by Edouard Glissant. According to Mignolo, Glissant’s imaginary signifies ‘all the ways a culture has of perceiving and conceiving of the world’ (in Wing 1997: 23). This definition implicitly recognizes the instituted and instituting capacity of collective imaginaries that for Cornelius Castoriadis (1981, 1991) constitutes a radical extension of autonomy beyond its liberal definitions privileging the individual self above the community. This implies definitions of culture and community as constantly under construction rather than primordial or fixed in their nature. These theorists’ use of ‘imaginary’ points to the need for situating the terms academics employ and translating where necessary across different usages and assumptions about value they deploy. Such translation may be necessary across different geospatial locations, disciplinary formations, and frameworks of theoretical allegiance. The heightened awareness of the need for such translation is part of what is meant by the cracking of the modern world system imaginary, a cracking to which postcolonial theory has made significant contributions but which is also affecting how the postcolonial imaginary understands itself.