Imagination Politics: intro to the project

This is a rough introduction into the project that I’ll be working on for the foreseeable future,
the Politics of Imagination: on decolonizing creativity and dismantling the default.

Imagination is crucial when identifying problems and seeking solutions, setting the building blocks of the futures we seek to create for one another and the next generations to come.

However, as I've come to see professionally and personally, the act of imagining itself is not a fair, objective, or equitable thing.
What has come to be considered "good", “the objective standard”, and/or the default in any creative practice – and in our imaginations – is filled with biases, blind spots, and has historically left out and manipulated the narratives of those marginalized, those seen throughout history as ABnormal, as other.
The imaginations of a privileged, dominant few are now more prevalent than ever in our society, actively shaping how it comes to be. And, for those coming into these practices as creators and visionaries, all work is judged under this aforementioned supposedly objective standard.

This is all to say, imagining is not an apolitical thing.
Not everyone can create as freely as some; there exist significant (+ historical) power dynamics between cultures and people; and the repercussions of these biases and disparate privileges are actively harming our societies, our internal imaginations, destroying our planet, and quite literally, hurting and killing people, too.
From architecture to photography, prose to the design of airplane seats, the standards for what is normal is skewed and set to a harmful default: white, cis male, Western (to name a few). And so, because imagining and creating are not equitable practices, then:

Inherently, this is shaping, manufacturing, envisioning, designing, photographing, writing, and constructing our societies unjustly and with biases. And it all comes from the imaginations of a dominant few that have been privileged over marginalized folks throughout history.
These dominant biases and ways of knowing are limiting, they are Anglocentric, white-centric, Eurocentric, cis-male-centric, hetero-centric, (et. al., you get the drift) and importantly in this discussion, they are today interpreted – and taught – as the standard practice, as objective, and as the norm. Which is a blatant lie. All else, is deviant and other. White, Western culture has become the reference point from which all other creativity and culture is judged – and it must be stopped, uprooted.

Though it’s still a working definition, these are the politics of imagination. (I really feel like I could keep going on this forever and I will have a longer version of this up too) BUT for the sake of some brevity, this is what I'll be commenting on for the foreseeable future,
bringing in work from different fields + people to show how it's all connected, and how through the lens of Imagination Politics, we can see how, in order to create a just and equitable society, the hierarchy of imaginations must be dismantled. Our creativity must be decolonized, the default must be torn down and tossed aside.

I hope you’ll join in this journey and comment, discuss, share, contribute, etc. Even today I found the perfect repost via @melihashemi from @hodakatebi
Alongside my own work, I'll be sharing that of others that illustrates the above and some more. I'll link the page where I'll be hosting every link, picture, etc. for continued reference in a week. I’m still building it, so pardon the delay. Thanks y’all! ❤️ First 3 slides: me
4th: @hodakatebi
5th: @joelakamag

continued (not on Instagram):

In short, Decolonizing creativity will focus on how folks (and we) are already uprooting these colonial ways of knowing, ways of creating, and false objective standardizations. It’ll be about removing whiteness and Western thought as the reference point for creative work; how it’s approached, taught, and “judged”. A process.

Dismantling the Default is more about the naming and the practice of actively challenging the defaults that have been programmed in our heads (imaginations) through this colonized creativity. 

It's a rally against the:

Standardization of language

Standardization of beauty

Standardization of philosophy

Standardization of gender

Standardization of history 

Ways of knowing

Ways of creating

Approaches to knowing and creating

Standardization of love, how to love, whom to love

Standardization of aesthetic

Standardization of what is professional (respectability politics)

the standardization of imagination in general, how there is one “type” that comes to mind first when you're thinking of any one thing. 

With Dismantling the Default, the goal is to break down our default notions to how we approach our work, no matter what we're looking at, but particularly with creativity. This is already happening but it's a naming and approach that I think is useful. It's about challenging who we think of when we think of something, and most importantly who we leave out and how it shapes our imaginations.

essayMichael A. Estrada