Event Detail

Fri Feb 10, 2006
Geballe Room, Stephens Hall
“Derrida and the Time of the Political” Conference

The politics of deconstruction and the implications of Jacques Derrida’s work for rethinking the political have been important topics in contemporary critical theory at least since the first Cérisy conference around his work in 1980 (Les Fins de l'homme. A partir du travail de Jacques Derrida). In his address at the fourth Cérisy conference around his work (La démocratie à venir, 2002, published in Voyous, 2003), Derrida emphatically rejected the suggestion that deconstruction did not initially have a political dimension: “[T]here never was in the 1980s or 1990s, as has sometimes been claimed, a political turn or ethical turn in ‘deconstruction,’ at least not as I experience it. The thinking of the political has always been a thinking of différance and the thinking of différance always a thinking of the political, of the contour and limits of the political, especially around the enigma or the autoimmune double bind of the democratic.” But he also observed elsewhere that works such as Specters of Marx and The Politics of Friendship did not constitute a political theory: “part of what I’m trying to say in these texts is not part of a theory that would be included in the field known as politology or political theory, and it’s not a deconstructive politics either. I don’t think that there is such a thing as a deconstructive politics, if by the name ‘politics’ we mean a programme, an agenda, or even the name of a regime.” This conference aims to foster debate about the enduring legacy of Derrida’s thought for understanding the political and its relation to political theory. Themes and issues to be addressed include the impact of a delimitation of metaphysics on the political field, the consequences of ideas about time for understanding the temporality and teleology inherent in concepts such as democracy and the public sphere (Öffentlichkeit), and the implications of Derrida’s interventions with regard to key ethical, juridical and political concepts such as forgiveness, justice, sovereignty, democracy, cosmopolitanism, fraternity, and violence. Unlike the many symposia and gatherings that commemorated Derrida’s untimely passing in the past year, this conference will bring together distinguished scholars of deconstruction as well as political theorists and philosophers who are not specialists on Derrida’s work in order to promote genuine discussion and debate. It is the first conference around Derrida’s engagement with the political that attempts to bridge the humanities and the social sciences, especially legal, social and political studies