Reading Ranciere in Thailand

xI’m writing a paper called “Reading Ranciere in Thailand”–part for obvious reasons given where I am but also because his Aesthesis manages to speak of aesthetic modernity wholly in terms of the male gaze of authors and doesn’t mention the post/colonial that is another word for modernity. It polices it’s own discussions of un-policing the aesthetic.


  1. Well Peter, he has said that he is not making universal claims. He bases his claims on the European corpus, especially the French, since the the nineteenth century. It is up to postcolonial peoples, women, gays, etc., to decide up to what point he speaks to them too. But that does not weaken his (Aes)thesis about European and Euro-American art and literature.

    1. I don’t think I agree about the last point: I think making any claims about modernity, about the arts, about the aesthetic, without in the least discussing the aesthetics of race is to miss what is indeed the “European” or “French” corpus. When he discusses movement and so on and non-representational art, where is any discussion of the influence from the arts of Africa, for example? Or Japanese art? His favorite period is 1890-1920–we know the influences on all the arts he mentions and that’s just to mention influences, not the whole use of “primitivisms” and the Orientalisms that pervaded. It’s not about universal claims: it’s about what counts as scenes in a “modernity” he quite obviously privileges (non-representational, non-teleological, etc). I’ll publish on this soon enough, but I think it goes to the heart of his method back to the 70s: to claim to let historical documents speak for themselves, etc. (the ignorant non-expert only asking questions), and I think that can’t get around the very structures in which certain questions get asked of a certain set of materials.

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