Abstract

This article examines Rancière's account of politics from a performative perspective. It brings insight about linguistic performativity to bear on key examples of political subjectification in order to illuminate the value and limits of a Rancièrean account of politics. It argues that Rancière's account of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century political activism helps shed light on how language produces the political subjects of dissensual politics and illuminates the important role citationality plays in that production. Nonetheless, a performative analysis reveals that Rancière's account, with its emphasis on the momentary character of politics and its briefly detailed and decontextualized examples, glosses over the necessity of citational repetition to the intelligibility and disruptiveness of an act of resistance. Without an account of politics more attuned to these iterative dimensions we may be unable to cultivate the ethos required by the conditions of our age or the terms of Rancière's own account.

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