Saskia Sassen today and Jane Adams more than 100 years ago are both social scientists and public philosophers of reconstruction. Both offer defining contributions to a philosophical tradition that will be identified here as “radical pragmatism”. Sassen’s theoretical stance “before method” serves as a key to understand Addams’s locally embedded urban activist projects as a form of social scientific inquiry. Sassen introduces the concept of “territory making” as a spark of hope against rampant and destructive global trends of “expulsions”, which her approach reveals. In this article this concept of “territory making” will be explored in various contexts and with particular attention to Addams’s Hull house project. It will be shown how a pragmatist brand of human imagination is critical in “territory making”. This leads to reconsidering the role of art in social transformation projects.
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