Interview with Jacques Rancière
Conducted by Lawrence Liang
Lodi Gardens, Delhi, 5th February 2009
Jacques Rancière (born Algiers, 1940) is Emeritus Professor, Philosophy, at the University of Paris (St. Denis). He came to prominence when he co-authored Reading Capital (1968), with Louis Althusser, the Marxist philosopher. He subsequently broke away from Althusser and wrote The Nights of Labour, a work that examined the philosophical and poetical writings of workers in 19th century France. Through an examination of the lives of these worker autodidacts, Rancière introduced a new way of thinking about the idea of the worker, and of the injunction that divides between those entitled to a life in thought and those born to do manual labour.
He went on to write The Philosopher and His Poor which looks at the figure of the poor artisan from classical philosophy down to Marx and Sartre. In The Ignorant Schoolmaster, inspired by the experiences of a radical early 19th century teacher, Joseph Jacotot, Rancière sought to rethink the idea of pedagogy away from the idea of moving form the unknown to the known and from those who possess knowledge to those who don’t, to look at how all forms of ignorance are also conditions of knowledge.
He was in Delhi recently, on the occasion of the release of the Hindi language edition of The Nights of Labour.