Terrorism and trauma: Negotiating Derridean 'autoimmunity'

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (5):605-619 (2011)
I begin by examining the logic of autoimmunity as characterized by Jacques Derrida, ‘that strange behaviour where a living being, in quasi-suicidal fashion, ‘‘itself’’ works to destroy its own protection, to immunize itself against its own immunity’ (Borradori, 2003: 94). According to Derrida, religion, democracy, terrorism and recent responses to the trauma of terrorism can be understood in terms of this logic. Responses to terrorism are ‘autoimmune’ and increase the trauma of terrorism as well as risking democratic values. I argue that the risks of autoimmunity can be negotiated in better ways if we see how autoimmunity relates to another important Derridean concept, hospitality
Keywords Autoimmunity   Democracy   Jacques Derrida   Hospitality
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DOI 10.1177/0191453711399253
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