Contemporary Political Movements and the Thought of Jacques Rancière: Equality in Action

Contemporary Political Movements and the Thought of Jacques Rancière: Equality in Action

Contemporary Political Movements and the Thought of Jacques Rancière: Equality in Action

Contemporary Political Movements and the Thought of Jacques Rancière: Equality in Action

Synopsis

In this book, Todd May shows how democratic progressive politics can happen and how it is happening in very different arenas. He takes an intensive look at a range of contemporary political movements and shows how, to one degree or another, they exemplify the political thought of Jacques Rancière. May's easy, clear writing style means that no philosophical background is required. Following an essential overview of Rancière's thought he considers the following groups: the Algerian refugee movement in Montreal for citizenship, the first Palestinian intifada, the politics of equality and identity politics in relation to the Zapatista movement, a local food co-op in South Carolina and an anarchist press in Oakland. Essentially this book shows how political theory and practice can enlighten one another and in an age of cynicism, fear and despair, Todd May suggests there is hope for the possibility of progressive democratic action. It will appeal to Rancière students, scholars and political activists alike.

Excerpt

This book is the product of a particular kind of hope. the left as an organized force in the United States and to a lesser extent Europe is in disarray. Throughout the eight years of outrages perpetrated by the Bush administration, there was surprisingly little organized struggle by people of a progressive bent. the prospects for the near future are hardly brighter, even if the immediate electoral situation in the us has improved somewhat. (It is difficult to imagine how it could have gotten worse.)

And yet, our world seems never without movements that struggle for and through real democracy. They enact in their deeds a world that many of us can only give shape to with our words. It is from these movements, and often from the courage and integrity of the people participating in them, that I draw that particular kind of hope.

My previous book on Jacques Rancière’s political thought sought to articulate a framework from within which we could conceive democratic political movements. It was largely theoretical in character. Here I turn my attention to several specific movements that have arisen over the past couple of decades, seeking to show how many of the insights he has offered help us understand their dynamics and point a way toward conceiving progressive political action. Understanding, of course, is not a substitute for action. But it may serve as a way of reflecting on that action, and of giving form to our vision of the future.

There are many people to thank for their assistance in this project, starting with M. Rancière himself, who encouraged me to pursue it when I presented it to him as a possible avenue for developing his ideas. a number of others have helped me realize it, and for that, I am grateful. Without their generosity, this book, flawed as it is, could not have been written. in addition, without the assistance of Carol Macdonald and Máiréad McElligott and two anonymous readers at Edinburgh University press, this book would not have been available . . .

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