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3 - Material Imagination: An Anthropological Perspective

from Part I - Theoretical Perspectives on the Imagination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2020

Anna Abraham
Affiliation:
University of Georgia
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Summary

Imagination is said to know no limits. Paradoxically the study of imagination is full of them. This chapter sets out to overcome some of those limits, adopting an anthropological perspective and rethinking imagination’s place in human life and creativity. We step back from the traditional cognitivist view and we try to underline the material bases and enactive character of imagination, challenging the disembodied, purely representational understanding of what it means to imagine. Building on Material Engagement Theory (MET) and focusing on the links between creativity and imagination, we make the case for material imagination: imagination not as a kind of decontextualized mental processing of internal representations, but as a situated dynamic sculpting of heterogeneous resources and processes (both internal and external). In this way the real and the imaginary no longer need to be split apart. Instead, their coming together forms the basis for the endless varieties of human creative gesture. We illustrate that with a simple line; a line imagined out of clay.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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