Poetics and Politics of Imagination: Causes and Obstacles to Prosperity

Sumrin Kalia's picture
Call for Papers
June 30, 2022
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Political Science, Women's & Gender History / Studies, Anthropology

Confronted by the rise of the ‘new right’ and the advent of ‘post-truth,’ existing scholarship on the global and transnational populisms calls for a departure from rationalist, essentialist, and structural-functionalist analyses. At this critical juncture, new scholarly terrain is called for to attend to myriad ‘irrational’ forces in politics e.g., emotional attachments to charismatic leaders, pre-colonial nostalgia, and impossible aspirations.  

In the first conference of our ERC project entitled “TAKHAYYUL: Imaginative Landscapes of Islamist Politics Across Balkan-to-Bengal Complex” we bring together academic works that seek to offer a fresh perspective that does not reproduce the irrational tropes yet is able to move beyond the Eurocentric preoccupation with liberalism and secularism. While a growing consensus emerges on the multiplicity of paths to modernity, the relationship of modernity with disenchantment and secularization is being hotly debated. In the West, scholars note that disenchantment caused by the retreat of religion in public life is replaced by the rise of ‘secular magic’- through charisma, myth, and revelation. This conference seeks to contribute to the scholarship on contemporary forms of populist politics through a focus on the mystical, charismatic, dreams, and the affective. We aim to develop a discussion around various theoretical approaches on which to delineate the ways Islamist movements forge imaginative landscapes.

In this conference, we ask: How can we expand our understanding of the formation of various populist Islamist political milieus through a focus on longing, nostalgia, dreams, desire, and other subjective, psychoanalytical, emotional, and aesthetic facets of everyday life? How do imaginative and emotive references shape and steer the ideals of prosperity? If any, what are the obstacles to those ideals in the formations of narratives around hope and a better future?

The conference brings together a wide array of scholars working on Muslim societies and Islamist movements across the world. It will stimulate a debate on the parallels and differences between various Islamist movements and their claims on the past, present, and future in an interdisciplinary forum bringing together scholars of sociology, political science, anthropology, social and legal history, and cultural studies.

Please express your interest in the conference by filling out the linked form before the 30th of June, 2022.


The selected papers will be part of the open-access edited volume.


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