Politics and its others: Jacques Rancière's figures of alterity

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This essay examines Jacques Rancière's concept of subjectivation, the coming into being of a political subject as the substance of radical democratic politics. In particular, it provides a detailed reading of disidentification and impossible identification as they relate to figures of the Other. I present some possible points of intersection between subjectivation and hybridity, and explain why these concepts may ultimately be incompatible in their most common formulations. Examining closely a few recurring figures of alterity ("the Algerian" and "the immigrant"), I show that, in each case, the Other is used principally as an abstract figure, a procedure which risks effacing historically situated political voices in the name of universalism. Moreover, I argue that decisions regarding which subjects authentically enact politics and which remain in the realm of the police can themselves turn out to be politically neutralizing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-470
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophy Today
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Philosophy Today.


  • Alterity
  • Hybridity
  • Politics
  • Rancière
  • Subjectivation


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