Whose names count? Jacques Ranciere on Alfredo Jaar’s Rwanda Project
journal contributionposted on 13.08.2018, 08:53 by Moya Lloyd
This paper focuses on Jacques Ranciere’s reflections on Alfredo Jaar’s The Rwanda Project, in the context of wider discussions of the politics of naming the dead. Against the claim that his reflections reveal a depoliticizing, universalist commitment to naming all the dead, it contends that foregrounding the relation between naming and counting in this discussion shows Ranciere’s focus to be the policing and politics of naming. In an original argument, it focuses specifically on how, for Ranciere, in this context, individualized proper names function politically and dissensually. To do so it explores (i) Ranciere’s analysis of the role of the mainstream media during the Rwandan genocide in perpetuating the police order (or order of grievability) that divided nameable individuals from anonymous masses, thereby constituting living and dead Rwandans as of little or no account, and (ii) his account of how Jaar’s art is able to disrupt the ‘partition of the sensible’ underpinning this count. The paper concludes by considering how Ranciere’s ideas about the relationship between naming and counting and between politics and police serve as a useful supplement to and extension of existing discussions of grievability.
A Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship funded the research on which this paper is based.
- Politics and International Studies