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Javnost–The Public, Vol. 21 - 2014, No. 3

A Call to Arms: An Essay on The Role of the Intellectual and the Need to Produce New Imaginaries

, pages: 77–92

The essay takes a historical reflection on the identity of the intellectual as a starting point, highlighting four key debates that have tried to provide meaning to this identity. These debates concern the intellectual’s class position, the intellectual’s connection to other classes and social groups, the location of the intellectual and the relationship with the university, and the publicness of the intellectual. These debates then feed into a more engaged reflection on the desirability of intellectuals to intervene in a society characterised by three types of crisis – the crisis of representative democracy, the economic crisis and the crisis of mimesis – investigating how their rethorics can be transformed into counter-hegemonic discourses. Although it is argued that the production of new ideological projects is not straightforward – because of the complex relationship between agency and discursive structures, the evenly difficult relationship between complexity and simplicity, and the ontological issues triggered by the crisis of mimesis – the essay pleads for the establishment of networks of intellectuals, driven by principles of value centrality, modular collaboration and non-essentialism, that allow them to critically rethink our core social structures, in order to establish new horizons to imagine social change.

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