Idle No More: Emancipatory Politics


“What is required is a theatre without spectators…”
~ Jacques Rancière

Idle No More has inspired a movement that’s not only responsible for some cool art by Dwayne Bird, it has also been challenging traditional hierarchies everywhere, within and without native communities. As Jacques Rancière would say, it’s a form of dissensus, or a dissent from inequality, and an insensibility. By not adhering to conventional methods of protest, Idle No More has been reconfiguring the sensory apparatus that permits participation in legitimate political struggle. The movement is located beyond the pale of acceptability and thus appears as irrational and insensible in the best way possible.


Employing an aesthetic that recalls Viktor Shklovsky’s notion of “defamiliarization”, Idle No More has forced a new way of seeing by embodying the unfamiliar as a way of enhancing perception of the familiar. At its core, this is essentially revolutionary and absolutely emancipatory. It traverses what Rancière calls the partage, or partition, that separates the legitimate from the illegitimate, and generates genuine hope for substantial and lasting change.

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