Humanism from an agonistic perspective: Themes from the work of Bonnie Honig

Mathew Humphrey, David Owen, Joe Hoover, Clare Woodford, Alan Finlayson, Marc Stears, Bonnie Honig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines Honig’s use of Rancière in her book ‘Democracy and the Foreigner’. In seeking to clarify the benefits of ‘foreignness’ for democratic politics it raises the concern that Honig does not acknowledge the ways in which her own democratic cosmopolitanism may be more akin to Rancière’s police than politics. By challenging Honig’s assertion that democracy is usually read as a romance with the suggestion that it is more commonly read as a horror, I unpick the interstices of Honig’s and Rancière’s work to separate foreignness from democratic cosmopolitanism. Instead, although I posit democratic cosmopolitanism’s potential as a police more conducive to politics I also suggest that the particular salience of Honig’s ‘foreigner’ figure is that it supplements Rancièrian politics, demonstrating a praxis of ‘looking anew’ at our ordinary social practices. By making these seem strange (foreign) to us, we can discover a new critical perspective from which to question and subvert, thereby furthering the potential of Rancièrian democratic politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-217
Number of pages50
JournalContemporary Political Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2014


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