Occupy Movements and ‘Social Imagination’:
Doing philosophy, complicated conversation, and community in the making
American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS), Vancouver, April 10-13, 2012

In less than two months, a spark created by “Occupy Wall Street” on September 17, 2011 has spread like a wild fire from Zuccotti Park to numerous cities and countries. More and more people are taking to the streets to let their frustrations be heard by the plutocrats and their media and their “too big to fail” banks and the governments under their rule.

In this time of democratic uprisings and societal turmoil, Maxine Greene’s philosophy of ‘social imagination’ and her persistent call to do philosophy—“to develop a fundamental project, to go beyond the situations one confronts and refuse reality as given in the name of a reality to be produced” (Greene, 1973, p. 7)—are more relevant than ever. Interestingly, due to their inclusive framework of the ‘99%’ and commitment to democracy, the dialogical spaces created by the Occupy movements are necessarily messy and embody a complicated conversation, involving many peoples, directions, and power relations. In what ways does her philosophy help us understand, trouble, live, and re/imagine the Occupy movements from our differing educational perspectives? How can we embody her philosophy in ways she would never imagine?

Each participant will speak briefly (about 5 minutes) in response to these overarching questions while touching upon some of the key conceptualizations in Greene’s philosophy such as wide-awakeness, embodied consciousness, freedom and community, community in the making, in/between, and the arts and imagination. We will then open it up to an interactive discussion with the audience.