Derrida and the Time of the Political
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 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
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.