The parergonal politics of Barack Obama

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (7):823-840 (2011)
Abstract
This article offers a Derridean analysis of Barack Obama’s statement that, as president, he would be willing to negotiate with political actors dubbed ‘terrorists’, ‘rogues’, ‘enemies’, or members of the ‘axis of evil’. The article argues that the Derridean concept of the ‘parergonal’ is useful, as is the Derridean distinction between hospitality and tolerance. This is because a parergonal approach to politics, evidenced in a willingness to listen to those that others have ignored, and to include those left out, illustrates hospitality’s commitment to allowing alterity to remain untranslated: the other is accepted as other. Undoubtedly, this deconstructive aspect of Obama’s political outlook proves threatening to traditional Americans, for its hospitality could potentially rewrite America’s hegemonic position in the world arena
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