French philosopher Jacques Rancière on emancipation


Report from the lecture: “Does emancipation belong to the past?”

Ljubljana, Klub Gromka at Metelkova
Saturday, 03.04.2010, 17.00h

French philosopher Jacques Rancière  visited Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia from March 29  to April 04, 2010.

Rancière, who started as a structuralist Marxist in the 1960s is still probably best known in the English speaking world as one of the co-authors with Louis Althusser (and Étienne Balibar, Pierre Macherey, Roger Establet) of Lire le capital (1967). Rancière broke with Althusser and structuralist Marxism after ‘the events’ of 1968. He criticised Althusser’s philosophy for its elitism and rejected the rigid and hierarchical distinction between science and ideology which it presupposed. He accused it of distrusting the spontaneous popular movements which had emerged in 1968 and of supporting a `politics of order’. He began to develop an oppositional and radical political philosophy which aims to give voice to an egalitarian politics of democratic emancipation.

In Belgrade, Zagreb, Rijeka and Ljubljana Rancière held three lectures and participated in two discussions. In Belgrade he spoke on “The Method of Equality: Politics and Poetics” at the Narodni univerzitet „Božidar Adžija” and there was a discussion on his book “The emancipated spectator” at the Jugoslavensko dramsko pozorište. In Zagreb he held a lecture on “The Method of Equality: Politics and Poetics” and in Rijeka there was a meeting with the author.

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On emancipation

Nina Bandi and Michael Kraft of meta-D.O.N. visited his lecture in Ljubljana, which was organized by the Workers’ and Punks’ University ( Workers’-Punks’ University has from its very start participated in inventing an alternative form of education. The focus of the 2010 lectures is to join the struggles against neoliberal reforms and struggles for new forms of solidarity, inclusive politics, free thinking and education.

Within this framework Rancière reflected on the present state and possibility of emancipation. He presented his concept of “living in several times at once”, living as equals in a world of inequality, opposing against the dominant form of temporality in a world of reassembled grand narratives and the widening of the power of temporary interruptions.

Jacques Ranciere at Klub Gromka, Lujbljana:

Jacques Ranciere from Delavsko – punkerska univerza on Vimeo.

The lecture of Rancière can be listened to here:

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Jacques Ranciere – Method of Equality

Jacques Rancière (born Algiers, 1940) is a French philosopher and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis). He first came to prominence as one of the co-authors, with Louis Althusser, of the original two-volume edition of Lire le Capital (1965), to which he contributed an essay on Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts (trans. `The Concept of “Critique” and the Critique of “Political Economy”‘, in Ali Rattansi, ed., Ideology, Method and Marx, Routledge, 1989). However, he soon broke with Althusser (see Ranciére, La Lecon d’Althusser, 1974), becoming an influential figure in French Maoism. This break, at once political and theoretical, was focused on what Ranciere has described as `the historical and philosophical relations between knowledge and the masses’. Through an examination of the lives of these worker autodidacts, Rancière introduced a new way of thinking about the idea of the worker, and of the injunction that divides between those entitled to a life in thought and those born to do manual labour.

He went on to write The Philosopher and His Poor which looks at the figure of the poor artisan from classical philosophy down to Marx and Sartre. In The Ignorant Schoolmaster, inspired by the experiences of a radical early 19th century teacher, Joseph Jacotot, Rancière sought to rethink the idea of pedagogy away from the idea of moving form the unknown to the known and from those who possess knowledge to those who don’t, to look at how all forms of ignorance are also conditions of knowledge.

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