Philosophy Today

Volume 63, Issue 2, Spring 2019

Ioana Vartolomei Pribiag
Pages 447-470

Politics and Its Others
Jacques Rancière’s Figures of Alterity

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.