Sunday, December 19, 2004

Oscillation, Hospitality

Inspired by Adam, I have just carefully revisited the following two extraordinary essays. While of course no substitute for reading Derrida, Agamben, Nancy, Negri or Zizek directly, both provide rich introductions, in a way, without sacrificing either rigorous scholarship or clarity. Both remain accessible, I think, to a more general or popular audience. Genuine interest is perhaps the only prerequisite.

() Postmodern Communities: The Politics of Oscillation, by Heesok Chang

() Liberal Multiculturalism and Ethics of Hospitality in the Age of Globalization, by Meyda Yegenoglu:

Although Negri's analysis of the ways in which constitutive power tames and suffocates constituent power is a useful one to think how laws of conditional hospitality limit the unconditional welcoming of foreigners, it nevertheless suffers from certain limitations. Negri does not use the concept of constituent power as a theoretical or philosophical device that enables him to better understand how constitutive arrangements limit a more expansive politics. Rather, he treats constituent power as something that can actually be established as such by its affirmation or as a self-affirming power. Moreover, Negri posits the relation between constitutive and constituent power as an opposition or a dialectical contradiction; he poses the relation between constitutive and constituent power as an either/or question. The heterogeneity between the two is reduced to an antinomy. As such, his analysis risks leaving intact the very structure it aims to criticize; it risks repeating the same desire for a sovereign position, shifted now to the side of the hegemonized second term.

27. In an attempt to rethink another philosophical and theoretical framework that might help us to envision the possibility of reinventing a political space that is neither locked within the limits and congealments of conditional hospitality nor one that pretends to go beyond the law by simply reversing it, I want to discuss Derrida's reading of the relation between conditional and unconditional hospitality and law and justice.

Really now, with a publication like PMC available online, who needs grad school?

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