Etienne Balibar

Etienne Balibar was born in Avallon (France) in 1942. He graduated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Sorbonne in Paris, later took his PhD from the University of Nijmegen (Netherlands) and has an Habilitation from Université de Paris I. He has been teaching at the Universities of Algiers, Sorbonne, Leiden, Nanterre, UC Irvine. He is Professor of Philosophy at Kingston University London and Visiting Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, New York. His books include Reading Capital (with Louis Althusser) (1965), On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (1976), Race, Nation, Class. Ambiguous Identities (1991, with Immanuel Wallerstein), Masses, Classes, Ideas (1994), The Philosophy of Marx (1995), Spinoza and Politics (1998), Politics and the Other Scene (2002), We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship (Princeton, 2004). Forthcoming are The Proposition of Equaliberty, Violence and Civility, and Citizen Subject, Essays of Philosophical AnthropologyMore information


Edward Said’s internal border

Ever since the Enlightenment, which gave the Europeanization of the World its progressive legitimacy, the articulations of nationalism and cosmopolitanism, community and universality, have been linked to a construction of the moral, political, and aesthetic subject in terms of what Fichte called the internal border, the perilous limit where his identity is assured, or threatened. I will submit that Said’s meditation of the perpetual dis-placement of the post-colonial subject, involving fidelity and projection, exile and translation, performs a radical metamorphosis of that category, which is not so much framed as “double consciousness” (as in Du Bois and Fanon) than “transposition” and “paraphrase” of the dominant theme (as in musical elaboration). The border thus becomes at the same time sharpened, densified, and lost. With the help of this assumption, returning to some of my preferred texts of engagement and criticism in his work, I will try to explain how it was possible for him, not only to combine a merciless critique of the codes of imperialism with a deep commitment to the tradition of secular humanism, but to open the path towards a new understanding of the cultural time-space in which we are entering.


In 2010 the Centre for the Humanities welcomed back Prof. Etienne Balibar who on September 22nd gave a public lecture titled ‘Europe: final crisis?’

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