Engendering the Prefigurative: Feminist Praxes That Bridge a Politics of Prefigurement and Survival


  • Cynthia S. Lin
  • Alisa A. Pykett
  • Constance Flanagan
  • Karma R. Chávez


Prefigurative politics are typically understood as experiments in living, laboring or provisioning that are alternatives to ‘what is’ and prefigure ‘what could be.’ This paper rethinks prefigurative politics, which scholars have often approached by emphasizing their economic and political structures, not the transformation of social relationships and power in these experiments. Despite this scholarly trend, many collectivities organizing around a politics of survival engage in prefigurative practices. In fact, in the process of resisting domination, they are re-imagining social relationships and power. In this paper, we draw on women of color feminist theory to explore the tensions of practicing principled politics and social justice in the deeply compromised spaces of struggle for those groups that act in the radical in-between of prefigurative politics and the politics of survival. By analyzing a reproductive justice organizing project called ‘We are BRAVE’ as a case study, we re-imagine prefigurative politics through three central elements: relationality, self-determination, and intersectionality.