Since his death in 1986, Michel de Certeau's reputation as a thinker has steadily grown both in France and throughout the English-speaking world. His work is extraordinarily innovative and wide-ranging, cutting across issues in historiography, literary and cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, theology, philosophy and psychoanalysis. This book represents the first full-length study of Certeau's thought. It is organized around the central theme of interpretation and alterity, which Ahearne uses to illuminate Certeau's work as a whole. The author also examines Certeau's theory and practice of historiography; his reflection on the relations between changing historical forms of writing, reading and orality; and his distinction between the "strategic" programmes of the politically powerful and the "tactics" of the relatively powerless. Ahearne places Certeau's work in its general intellectual context, relating it to the views of important contemporary thinkers, such as Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault, and demonstrating the decisive importance to Certeau's thought of the writings of the early modern mystics and travellers.
This book constitutes an excellent critical introduction to Certeau's work, while also providing a comprehensive and nuanced reading for those already familiar with his thought.
Dr. Jeremy Ahearne, University of Warwick