Derrida and the Time of the Political

Derrida and the Time of the Political

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: Published: January 2009

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Politics > Political Theory, Sociology > Social Theory

An intellectual event, Derrida and the Time of the Political marks the first time since Jacques Derrida’s death in 2004 that leading scholars have come together to critically assess the philosopher’s political and ethical writings. Skepticism about the import of deconstruction for political thought has been widespread among American critics since Derrida’s work became widely available in English in the late 1970s. While Derrida expounded political and ethical themes from the late 1980s on, there has been relatively little Anglo-American analysis of that later work or its relation to the philosopher’s entire corpus. Filling a critical gap, this volume provides multiple perspectives on the political turn in Derrida’s work, showing how deconstruction bears on political theory and real-world politics. The contributors include distinguished scholars of deconstruction whose thinking developed in close proximity to Derrida’s, as well as leading political theorists and philosophers who engage Derrida’s thought from further afield.

The volume opens with a substantial introduction in which Pheng Cheah and Suzanne Guerlac survey Derrida’s entire corpus and position his later work in relation to it. The remaining essays address the concerns that arise out of Derrida’s analysis of politics and the conditions of the political, such as the meaning and scope of democracy, the limits of sovereignty, the relationship between the ethical and the political, the nature of responsibility, the possibility for committed political action, the implications of deconstructive thought for non-Western politics, and the future of nationalism in an era of globalization and declining state sovereignty. The collection is framed by original contributions from Hélène Cixous and Judith Butler.

Contributors. Étienne Balibar, Geoffrey Bennington, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, Pheng Cheah, Hélène Cixous, Rodolphe Gasché, Suzanne Guerlac, Marcel Hénaff, Martin Jay, Anne Norton, Jacques Rancière, Soraya Tlatli, Satoshi Ukai


Derrida and the Time of the Political is the best edited volume available on Derrida and politics.” — Lasse Thomassen, Radical Philosophy Review

“[An] indispensable collection. . . What is particularly remarkable about this collection is the fact that its introduction is one of the very finest, most penetrating, reliable, and lucid presentations of Derrida’s thought in general to have been published to date. This single fact merits inclusion of this volume in every serious general and academic collection; the introduction by Cheah and Guerlac will guide readers to the appropriate texts in Derrida’s oeuvre and to the relevant essays in the volume. Highly recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduate students and above.” — N. Lukacher, Choice

“The Introduction provides a thorough, thoughtful overview of the question of the political in Derrida’s writings and of the successive ways it was treated or approached in the decades before his death. It also quite convincingly gives an account of the way in which those motifs in his thought that might most obviously be related to political concerns (democracy, sovereignty, justice, law, hospitality and so on) are intimately connected to his more ‘philosophical concerns’. . . . [T]his is a provocative volume that deserves recognition as a major milestone in the longstanding debate about the political dimension of deconstructive thought.” — Ian James, French Studies

Derrida and the Time of the Political undoes once and for all the unproductive opposition between deconstruction and politics that has dominated the United States academy. This is a stellar collection. The pieces are diversified, not a commemorative gesture but a critical engagement. Careful theoretical parsing combines with detailed political awareness to make this book an authoritative document for understanding not only the later Derrida and political deconstruction but the problems and engagements of our time.” — Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor and Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Pheng Cheah is Professor of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Inhuman Conditions: On Cosmopolitanism and Human Rights and Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation and co-editor of Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation.

Suzanne Guerlac is Professor of French at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson and Literary Polemics: Bataille, Sartre, Valéry, Breton, co-winner of the Modern Language Association’s Scaglione Prize.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

1. Introduction: Derrida and the Time of the Political / Pheng Cheah and Suzanne Guerlac 1

Part I. Openings

Jacques Derrida: Co-Responding Voix You / Helene Cixous 41

Part II. The a-venir: Undoing Sovereignty and Teleology

Eschatology versus Teleology: The Suspended Dialogue between Derrida and Althusser / Etienne Balibar 57

The Untimely Secret of Democracy / Pheng Cheah 74

Sovereign Stupidity and Autoimmunity / Geoffrey Bennington 97

Sovereign Hesitations / Wendy Brown 114

Part III. Responsibilities within and without Europe

European Memories: Jan Patocka and Jacques Derrida on Responsibility / Rodolphe Gasche 135

"Call Me Ishmael" / Anne Norton 158

Algeria as an Archive / Soraya Tlatli 177

Fine Risks, or, The Spirit of a Pacifism and Its Destiny / Satoshi Ukai 196

Part IV. Between Ethics and Politics

The Aporia of Pure Giving and the Aim of Reciprocity: On Derrida's Given Time / Marcel Henaff 215

Pseudology: Derrida on Arendt and Lying in Politics / Martin Jay 235

The Fragility of the Pardon (Derrida and Ricouer) / Suzanne Guerlac 255

Should Democracy Come? Ethics and Politics in Derrida / Jacques Ranciere 274

Part V. Afterword

Finishing, Starting / Judith Butler 291

Bibliography 307

Contributors 323

Index 327

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4372-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4350-9
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