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Emancipating Political Ecology: Rancière and Latour in the Anthropocene

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posted on 2024-03-13, 00:26 authored by Fraser Gray

The reaction of many Posthuman philosophers to the work of Jacques Rancière has been mixed. He has been criticised for his humanist and anthropocentric politics which defines the human as the only political being. However, some Posthumanists consider his work an invaluable conceptual framework for understanding how even the most maligned of beings can disrupt the existing social order. Although Rancière denies that nonhumans can participate in politics, such a denial seems antithetical to his philosophy, since it is precisely this denial of capacity that primes the nonhuman with the power to disrupt the hierarchical logic that defines who or what is a political being. Few scholars have explored Rancière’s concept of mute speech, which refers to the idea that meaning is immanent in human and nonhuman bodies either as a sign ready to be interpreted or as an excess of meaning characterised by a brute presence that avoids precise signification. I argue that the concept of mute speech can form the basis of a Rancièrean political ecology in which bodies contribute to the construction of new configurations of meaning alongside human beings. I also argue that nonhumans actively contribute to the process of subjectivization by playing a part in the formation of new subjects. Ultimately, this requires that the speech of the nonhuman is considered equal to those of their human counterparts, in the sense that they are both politically meaningful. To bring Rancière closer to this position, I utilise the work of Bruno Latour as he provides a helpful conception of political capacity as arising from human/nonhuman assemblages.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- I. Rancière, Logos, and the Posthuman Reaction -- II. Mute Speech, Bodies, and Translation -- III. Three Scenes: Subjectivization and the gap between aesthetics and politics -- Conclusion -- Bibliography

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Research

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jean-Philippe Deranty

Additional Supervisor 1

Robert Sinnerbrink


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




65 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 314162

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