Translating Politics

Philosophy and Rhetoric 49(4) 2016
Samuel Chambers

Abstract. This article attends to the process of translating politics—both in the writings of Jacques Rancière and in their reception. I argue that Rancière’s project seeks not just to change the meaning of politics in a given conceptual framework or language but to think politics in a different language or paradigm entirely. I stage a working through of three different “cases” of translating politics, as I look at three terms: “aisthēsis,” “politics,” and “the political.” I conclude by emphasizing “politicalness,” a word that helps to capture Rancière’s dynamic, nonontological sense of the unpredictable disruption of the police order by politics. A certain project of translation plays a central role in the Rancièrean thinking of politics. No master dictionary can assure or secure translation across languages and contexts, and no political ontology can undergird or safeguard the historical happening of politics.


Rancière, politics, translation, politicalness, “le partage du sensible”