Kristin Ross | Against commemoration: Unearthing the lives and afterlives of May ’68

Thread:In May ’68 and its afterlives (2002), you described France’s ‘68 as a “union of intellectual contestation with workers struggles.” Left formations today struggle to create programs of action that unite peoples of different sectors of society. What should the Left know about the political struggles that unfolded in May 1968 in France? What thought and action enabled the coalescence of forces in ‘68? Ross: Well, that changes all the time, doesn’t it? The past is very unpredictable and its ability to connect with our current situations is often indirect and somewhat aleatory. When I wrote my book, for example, at…

Jacques Rancière; The Emancipated Spectator

Jacques Rancière; The Emancipated Spectator (Full book) The theorists of art and film commonly depict the modern audience as aesthetically and politically passive. In response, both artists and thinkers have sought to transform the spectator into an active agent and the spectacle into a communal performance. In this follow-up to the acclaimed The Future of the Image, Rancière takes a radically different approach to this attempted emancipation. First asking exactly what we mean by political art or the politics of art, he goes on to look at what the tradition of critical art, and the desire to insert art into…

Kristin Ross; May ’68 and its Afterlives

Kristin Ross; MAY ’68 AND ITS AFTERLIVES (Full book) During May 1968, students and workers in France united in the biggest strike and the largest mass movement in French history. Protesting capitalism, American imperialism, and Gaullism, 9 million people from all walks of life, from shipbuilders to department store clerks, stopped working. The nation was paralyzed—no sector of the workplace was untouched. Yet, just thirty years later, the mainstream image of May ’68 in France has become that of a mellow youth revolt, a cultural transformation stripped of its violence and profound sociopolitical implications. Kristin Ross shows how the current…

Democracy. Jean-Marie Gleize / Rimbaud / Kristin Ross

  Jean-Marie Gleize Democracy There is, in Rimbaud’s Illuminations, a text called “Democracy.” We know little of this text’s composition, as the manuscript is lost. It was published belatedly in a journal (La Vogue, 1889), but we are scarcely surprised to encounter a text of this title from the quill of that democrat Rimbaud, virulently hostile to Napoléon III’s dictatorship, radically aligned with the insurrectionary movement of the Paris Commune — with, one might say, an insurgent, revolutionary democracy. As Bernard Noël has suggested, Rimbaud is a communard “not only in his opinion, but in his being.” Now the particularity…