Talking with ghosts: Rancière, Derrida and the archive
The French theorists Jacques Rancière and Jacques Derrida both produced reflections on the nature of the historical archive and its relationship to dissent or resistance. The notion of a ghost, a ‘spectre’ (as referenced in Derrida’s Specters of Marx), provides this article with a means of reflecting upon those theoretical positions. It engages briefly with the civic uprising in Carcassonne led by Hélie Patrice in 1303, an event ‘haunted’ by earlier revolts; and with the evidence given by Arnaud Gélis to the inquisitor Bishop Jacques Fournier, in which Gélis claimed to have seen and spoken with a variety of ghosts. These brief examples allow us to reflect upon the nature of ‘dissent’ in the medieval period, and upon the inescapable distance and epistemological uncertainty that the material nature of the archive places upon us in our practices as medievalists.