Introduction: Ingenious Agency: Democratic Agency and Its Disavowal
The introduction critiques the predominant conception of democratic agency in Western liberal and progressive thought, arguing that it remainders other forms of political agency as less proper and acceptable, and preempts an investigation into how other forms of agency may engender unexpected dynamic of social change. Alternatively, it offers a conception of ingenious agency—the capacity of creatively contriving different ways of enacting oneself politically within limited tools and resources—at the center of political theorizing. Noting that such agency embodies the endogenous coexistence of purity and contamination, it suggests that the “abject subjects” can most fruitfully help illustrate the deployment of this agency and its potential for social change. The introduction then discusses the book’s interpretative method of critical contextualization, and signals how it brings into view a political theory of social change and a fluid horizon of rights-based movements.