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Crisis theory and the historical imagination

Samman, A. (2015). Crisis theory and the historical imagination. Review of International Political Economy, 22(5), pp. 966-995. doi: 10.1080/09692290.2015.1011682


This article makes a theoretical contribution to the constructivist and cultural political economy literatures on crisis. While these new approaches have highlighted the imaginary dimensions of crisis, they have neglected the specifically historical forms of imagination through which events are construed and constructed as crises. In particular, they have yet to adequately theorise how the recollection of prior crises might interact with efforts to diagnose and resolve a crisis in some later present. I respond to this lacuna by developing a novel set of tools for analysing the metahistorical dimensions of crisis. These include a typology that identifies three distinct ways of recalling past crises, and a concept of ‘history-production’, which captures how different interpretive practices feed into the diagnosis and negotiation of crisis episodes. Taken together these tools help illuminate a complex interaction not only between historical analogies, narratives, and lessons, but also between these representational modes and the imaginary dimensions of crisis.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Review of International Political Economy on 20/03/2015, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Crisis; constructivist and cultural political economy; history; ideas; narrative
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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