What’s He Building? Activating the Utopian Imagination with Trump

Christian De Cock*, Sine N. Just, Emil Husted

*Corresponding author for this work

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Can one sell any positive value of Trump’s presidency to an academic audience? The editors of this special series invited polemical essays, but maybe asking readers to consider the merit of Trump is going a little too far? We put forward the argument here that as critical scholars we simply cannot allow ourselves to be swept up in the bien-pensant tide of Trump-trashing, which has almost become as addictive as the current reality-TV quality of the US presidency itself. As Roitman has suggested in a different context, ‘the concept of crisis is crucial to the “how” of thinking otherwise’. Thus, we believe it crucial to seize the crisis of the Trump presidency as an opportunity to activate the utopian imagination, rather than an occasion for moralizing judgements or regressive nostalgia which would effectively mean aligning ourselves with the neo-liberal consensus many of us spent our careers critiquing. We further argue that Fredric Jameson’s notion of the dialectic may refresh our critical conceptual arsenal in these disorienting times. This dialectical approach is meant to alter not only how we see reality, but also what we think we can do with it. It enables us to see the traumatic event of Trump’s election as providing a form and space through which contradictions that have been locked firmly into place in our socioeconomic set-up over the past few decades have become much more malleable, partly because of their increased visibility.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)671-680
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 17. July 2018


  • Dialectic
  • Future
  • Jameson
  • Populism
  • Trump
  • Utopia

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