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Balibar, Etienne (1942–)


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DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


French Marxist theoretician, former pupil and collaborator of Louis A lthusser , and a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Paris (Sorbonne). For 20 years a member of the French Communist Party until his exclusion in 1981, Balibar has since been prominent in anti-racist campaigns in France. From the 1960s to the 1990s these political commitments have profoundly marked his intellectual engagements, which focused on four main, interrelated areas: (i) critical development of a “historical epistemology” – an anti-empiricist French tradition in the history and philosophy of science, associated with Gaston B achelard , Jean Cavaillès, and Georges Canguilhem; (ii) interrogation and reconstruction of theoretical M arxism in light of the record of historical Communism – the joint, internationally influential enterprise of “Althusserianism,” undertaken with Pierre M acherey and Michel P êcheux among others; (iii) interpretation of the political actuality of the thought of Spinoza, classical philosopher-general of Althusserian Marxism; and (iv) reflections and interventions on contemporary nationalism and R acism . In his best-known work (1965), Balibar employed Bachelardian-Althusserian categories to reconstruct historical materialism as the general theory of social formations founded by Marx. Arguing that the concept of “mode of production,” properly understood, effected an “epistemological ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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