A New Way to Suffer: Girard, Rancière and Political Subjectification

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This article explores the question of political subjectification in both René Girard and Jacques Rancière’s work. In his recent engagement with Axel Honneth, Rancière clarifies his position on suffering and its importance for political emancipation. In response to Honneth’s claim that suffering is the key catalyst of political action, Rancière advances a thesis that it is not suffering itself but a different form of suffering that leads people towards emancipation. In his archival work on 19th century workers’ movements, he demonstrates that workers learned a new way to suffer through literature they studied in their spare time. The impulse for emancipatory political action did not come only from the fact of enduring hunger, low wages and poverty, but from learning a new, bourgeois form of experience through reading certain types of literature. In this contribution, I explore Rancière’s thesis on a new form of suffering from Girard’s mimetic perspective and examine the political potential of Girard’s mimetic theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-178
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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