From Radical Democracy to Radical Citizenship: Etienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière on the Windrush Scandal and Emancipatory Struggles

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Within the field of post-Marxist political theory (1985-present), there is a lack of theoretical debate about citizenship and its meaning for emancipation, indicating that the notion is perceived as being of marginal interest for theorizing emancipation and democracy. In this article, I intend to remedy this absence of sustained reflection about the notion, by investigating what French philosophers Etienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière can tell us about the relation between citizenship and emancipation in the present. In order to show in what manners this debate is relevant for contemporary politics, I will present my discussion of both philosophers in the context of a specific case-study: the Windrush Scandal in the United Kingdom, which was exposed by British media in early 2018. Notably, in exploring to what extent both thinkers can respectively make sense of the Windrush Affair and its implications for citizenship and democracy, I will argue that Balibar is correct in framing citizenship as an emancipatory identity, as opposed to Rancière’s marginalization of the notion in his political thought.
Faculteit der Filosofie, Theologie en Religiewetenschappen