It has taken several decades for the work of Jacques Ranciére to find a wide audience. His first publications, in which he developed an alternative approach to the history of the labour movement, were known only to a few specialists in the mid- 1970s. Interest in his writings started to grow with the publication of Disagreement, his major book of political philosophy (1995 in France, 1998 for the English translation). Since then, his unflinching defence of a radical version of democratic equality has made him one of the key references in contemporary political thought. Parallel to this work on democracy, his writings on literature and the visual arts, particularly film, have also gained increased attention in the last two decades. Of the more than twenty books he has published, only a handful are not yet translated into English. He now publishes regularly in international journals of politics and aesthetics and receives invitations all over the world from the most prestigious academic and artistic institutions.
Early Marxist years and the rupture of May '68
Ranciére was born in 1940 in Algiers. He was therefore a decade younger than the generation of the most famous postwar French theorists, like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze. Ranciére's generation, of which Alain Badiou is the other very famous figure, was the one that would become engulfed by the revolutionary activism awakened by the events of May 1968.