Badiou's Axiomatic Democracy Against Cultural Politics: A Jamaican Counter-Example

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Alain Badiou is a fierce critic of State-based parliamentary democracy and the supposedly radical democracy that fails to disentangle itself from the Statist logic of representation. This article traces Badiou's alternative proposal of a generic democracy based upon the prescription of an axiom of equality. However, the article then challenges an important consequence of this axiomatic democracy: the apparent disjuncture between politics and culture. It does so by re-describing the productive interface between the Rastafari movement and roots reggae music in Jamaica in the 1970s and beyond as, in Badiou's own terms, a 'configuration' that reveals the possibility of what is termed an 'evental culture'. By reading Rastafarian reggae as an example of a generic radical democracy with an explicitly cultural politics at its core, it is argued that the outlines of what has hitherto been an out-and-out oxymoron - a 'Badiouian cultural studies' - are provided.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2009

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