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Hope against hope: COVID-19 and the space for political imagination

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Published7 Apr 2021

King's Authors


COVID-19 has loosened neoliberalism’s hegemonic grip on the future. Amid the enormous suffering experienced internationally, there is much discussion of how to ‘Build Back Better’, and hope for a more caring, just and sustainable world. But competing futures are being imagined and planned. Hope is never politically neutral, and the content of collective hope is a key site of political struggle. This is partly a question of space: who has the literal and discursive space in which to develop visions of the future? The following article considers the role that cultural studies can play in this struggle. ‘Conjunctural analysis’ has a key task, making visible the competing futures contained within the present. But cultural studies should go further: combining conjunctural analysis with methods drawn from a range of scholarly and activist traditions – including critical pedagogy, devised theatre and the interdisciplinary field of futures studies – that deliberately create spaces for imagining new futures.

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