Anti Eurocentrism Essays

1 For an explanation of IRʼs reflexive turn see Hamati-Ataya, Inanna, ‘Reflectivity, reflexivity, reflexivism: IRʼs “reflexive turn” – and beyond’, European Journal of International Relations, 19:4 (2013), pp. 669–694.

2 For examples see the discussion below on definitions.

3 See Rumelili, Bahar, ‘Uluslararası İlişkilerde Batı Merkezcilik’, Uluslararası İlişkiler, 6:23 (2009), pp. 45–72 for a relevant example.

4Tickner, J. Ann, ‘Reading Hobson through feminist lenses’, Millennium, 42:2 (2014), pp. 472–479. It is important to note that Hobson is criticised here for ignoring the feminist critique of Eurocentrism in IR.

5Hobson, John M., ‘Is critical theory always for the white West and for Western imperialism? Beyond Westphilian towards a post-racist critical IR’, Review of International Studies, 33:S1 (2007, special supplement issue), p. 101.

6Seth, Sanjay, ‘Historical sociology and postcolonial theory: Two strategies for challenging Eurocentrism’, International Political Sociology, 3:3 (2009), pp. 334–338.

7 See Gruffydd Jones, Branwen (ed.), Decolonizing International Relations (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006) for examples.

8 See Immanuel Wallerstein, ‘Eurocentrism and its avatars: The dilemmas of social science’, Keynote Address at ISA East Asian Regional Colloquium, ‘The Future of Sociology in East Asia’, 22–3 November 1996, Seoul, Korea), available at: {http://www2.binghamton.edu/fbc/archive/iweuroc.htm} accessed 26 May 2015.

9 See Mann, Michael, ‘Explaining International Relations, empires and European miracles: A response’, Millennium, 34:2 (2006), pp. 541–550 for another case in which Hobson’s historical account is rejected by reference to European actors’ dominant role in the late nineteenth century. It is important to note that Mann is careful to reject Eurocentric accounts while defending the relevance of Europeans.

10Nişancıoğlu, Kerem, ‘The Ottoman origins of capitalism: Uneven and combined development and Eurocentrism’, Review of International Studies, 40:2 (2013), p. 325.

11 Ibid., pp. 343, 332.

12Vasilaki, Rosa, ‘Provincialising IR? Deadlocks and prospects in post-Western IR theory’, Millennium, 41:1 (2012), p. 4.

13Sabaratnam, Meera, ‘Avatars of Eurocentrism in the critique of the liberal peace’, Security Dialogue, 44:3 (2013), p. 261.

14Matin, Kamran, ‘Redeeming the universal: Postcolonialism and the inner life of Eurocentrism’, European Journal of International Relations, 19:2 (2013), p. 354.

15Barkawi, Tarak and Laffey, Mark, ‘The postcolonial moment in security studies’, Review of International Studies, 32:2 (2006), pp. 332–333.

16Buzan, Barry and Little, Richard, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), the book’s glossary definition for Eurocentrism on p. 440.

17 Ibid., p. 21.

18 See studies in Long, David and Brian C. Schmidt (eds), Imperialism and Internationalism in the Discipline of International Relations (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005). Guilhot, Nicolas, ‘Imperial realism: post-war IR theory and decolonisation’, The International History Review, 36:2 (2014), p. 699 also discusses Eurocentrism as IR’s ‘very condition of possibility’, not a coincidental part of the discipline, while non-Western regions constituted its ‘founding concern’ at a time when the West established the discipline.

19Onar, Nora Fisher and Nicolaidis, Kalypso, ‘The decentring agenda: Europe as a post-colonial power’, Cooperation and Conflict, 48:2 (2013), p. 284.

20Sabaratnam, , ‘Avatars of Eurocentrism’, p. 274.

21 In Bilgin, Pınar, ‘The “Western-centrism” of security studies: “Blind spot” or constitutive practice?’, Security Dialogue, 41:6 (2010), pp. 615–622 a most symbolic example of this interwovenness comes to the surface, with the title referring to Western-centrism but the keywords list containing Eurocentrism.

22T. R., William Fox and Annette Baker Fox, ‘The teaching of International Relations in the United States’, World Politics, 13:3 (1961), p. 358, emphasis added.

23 Ibid., p. 359, emphasis added.

24Little, Richard, ‘International Relations theory from a former hegemon’, in Christian Reus-Smit and Duncan Snidal (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 684.

25 See Callahan, William A., ‘Nationalising international theory: Race, class and the English School’, Global Society, 18:4 (2004), pp. 305–323.

26 Ibid., p. 312.

27 Ibid., p. 314.

28 See, for example, Buzan and Little, International Systems; Keene, Edward, Beyond the Anarchical Society – Grotius, Colonialism and Order in World Politics (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

29Hobson, John M., The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics: Western International Theory, 1760–2010 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012). See, among others, in addition to his earlier historical revisionist book The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), also his article on Eurocentrism’s presence in IR’s critical theory in 2007, ‘Is critical theory’; his co-authored discussion of Eurocentrism, liberalism, and imperialism with Hall, Martin, ‘Liberal international theory: Eurocentric but not always imperialist?’, International Theory, 2:2 (2010), pp. 210–245; his co-authored evaluation of IR’s 1648 and 1919 myths in de Carvalho, Benjamin, Leira, Halvard, and Hobson, John M., ‘The Big Bangs of IR: The myths that your teachers still tell you about 1648 and 1919’, Millennium, 39:3 (2011), pp. 735–758.

30Hobson, , Eurocentric Conception, p. 1.

31 Ibid., pp. 16, 18.

32 Ibid., p. 29.

33 Ibid., pp. 236–42. Knutsen, Torbjørn, ‘Western approaches’, Millennium, 42:2 (2014), pp. 448–455 also states how the book is open to questions about its possibly excessive critical engagement that tends to encompass virtually all of IR scholarship within its Eurocentrism critique.

34Hobson, , Eurocentric Conception, p. 320. It is important to distinguish between his manifest vs subliminal Eurocentrism and the three forms of Eurocentrism I propose. In the former, there is a rather cyclical quality with the manifest version being the more definitive form of Eurocentrism, whereas my framework is based on a gradual de-Eurocentricisation of world politics and the discipline of IR itself. This means that conjunctural forms and ideological versions gradually lose their influence, with residual Eurocentrism being a probable transitionary stage into a fully non-Eurocentric IR.

35Hobson, , ‘Is critical theory’, p. 102.

36Hobson, John M. and Lawson, George, ‘What is history in International Relations?’, Millennium, 37:2 (2008), p. 434.

37Bull, Hedley and Watson, Adam, The Expansion of International Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 2.

38Hobson, , Eurocentric Conception, pp. 224–225.

39 See Hobson, The Eastern Origins.

40Hobson, , Eurocentric Conception, pp. 325–326.

41 A different, but related problem is, as Robert Vitalis has recently pointed out, that Hobson’s framework has difficulties when interpreting scholars whose Eurocentricness decreased (or increased) over time. See his ‘A great-grandson breaks new ground in critical IR thought’, Millennium, 42:2 (2014), pp. 480–4.

42Hobson, , Eurocentric Conception, p. 326.

43 Ibid., p. 331.

44 For the former see Acharya, Amitav and Buzan, Barry (eds), Non-Western International Relations Theory: Perspectives On and Beyond Asia (London: Routledge, 2010) and Shilliam, Robbie (ed.), International Relations and Non-Western Thought: Imperialism, Colonialism and Investigations of Global Modernity (London: Routledge, 2011); for the latter see Lamy, Steven, Baylis, John, Smith, Steve, Owens, and Patricia, Introduction to Global Politics (3rd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) and Baylis, John, Smith, Steve, and Owens, Patricia (eds), The Globalization of World Politics (6th edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). Both textbooks aim to have a non-US perspective and to refer as much as possible to non-Western settings, unlike the previous mainstream textbooks focusing on the US and the Western setting. One has to note that both are among the most popular textbooks in the field, with the former prepared more specifically for the US students.

45 See Long and Schmidt (eds), Imperialism and Internationalism.

46 See Wæver, Ole, ‘The sociology of a not so international discipline: American and European developments in International Relations’, International Organization, 52:4 (1998), pp. 687–727 on IR’s prospects as a pluralistic discipline.

47Hobson, , Eurocentric Conception, p. 344.

48 See Keohane, Robert, ‘Beyond dichotomy: Conversations between International Relations and feminist theory’, International Studies Quarterly, 42:1 (1998), pp. 193–197 and Tickner, J. Ann, ‘Continuing the conversation…’, International Studies Quarterly, 42:1 (1998), pp. 205–210.

49 Their International Systems in World History (text)book from 2000 emerges as the most important (and first) mainstream engagement with Eurocentric IR.

50 See Amitav Acharya’s ISA Presidential Address at the 2014 ISA annual convention in Toronto published as ‘Global International Relations (IR) and regional worlds – A new agenda for International Studies’, International Studies Quarterly, 58:4 (2014), pp. 647–59 and Neumann’s, Iver inaugural lecture at the LSE published as ‘International Relations as a social science’, Millennium, 43:1 (2014), p. 336 and also fn. 22, where he makes the point that Eurocentrism is not only scientifically but also politically and morally untenable. Even Chris Brown, usually discontent to spend time on IR’s self-focused disciplinary issues, sees Eurocentric IR as a problem to the extent that non-Europeans’ thinking is ignored just because ‘they are non-Europeans’ (emphasis in original). See his ‘IR as a social science: A response’, Millennium, 43:1 (2014), p. 353.

51Tickner, Arlene B. and Wæver, Ole, International Relations Scholarship around the World (New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 338.

52Hobson, , ‘Is critical theory’, p. 106.

53 See also Rumelili, ‘Uluslararası İlişkilerde’, for a case in which any study that does not focus on the subjecthood of a non-Western actor is defined to be Eurocentric.

54Jones, , Decolonizing International Relations, p. 2.

55 For instance, Kautilya’s much emphasised treatise on (world) politics Arthasastra, while being an important contribution of Indian civilisational sphere, was only rediscovered in its full text version in the twentieth century. Thus it could not have become a completely influential guide in contributing to IR even if the discipline were less Eurocentric in its early periods.

56 See Shilliam, International Relations and Non-Western Thought on non-Western international thought. It is significant that this volume shows the impact of the Western-shaped international order for the non-West, as its focus is much determined by the impact of Western imperialism.

57 For an influential example see Lebow, Richard Ned, A Cultural Theory of International Relations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

58 Acharya and Buzan, Non-Western International Relations Theory, see especially the contributions by Buzan and Little.

59 In a 1997 volume on contemporary major IR scholars, all were from the ‘West’. By 2013, in another similar volume, which however also dealt with older scholarship, ‘IR classics’ were again all Western. See Neumann, Iver B. and Wæver, Ole (eds), The Future of International Relations: Masters in the Making? (London: Routledge, 1997) and Bliddal, Henrik, Sylvest, Casper, and Peter, Wilson (eds), Classics of International Relations: Essays in Criticism and Appreciation (London: Routledge, 2013). But this only shows that ideational foundations are changing less quickly compared to interest shown for regions such as East Asia and Latin America in more recent IR studies. However, previously referred works by Acharya and Buzan as well as Shilliam show recent advances in this dimension, too.

60 See Zakaria, Fareed, The Post-American World (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008) and Ikenberry, John, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).

61Buzan, Barry and Lawson, George, ‘The global transformation: The nineteenth century and the making of modern International Relations’, International Studies Quarterly, 57:3 (2013), pp. 621, 629.

62 In another joint article, they also criticise the usage of Eurocentric benchmarks such as 1648 and 1989 in IR. See Lawson, Buzan and, ‘Rethinking benchmark dates in International Relations’, European Journal of International Relations, 20:2 (2014), pp. 437–462.

63Musgrave, Paul and Nexon, Daniel H., ‘Singularity or aberration? A response to Buzan and Lawson’, International Studies Quarterly, 57:3 (2013), p. 639.

64Phillips, Andrew, ‘From global transformation to Big Bang: A response to Buzan and Lawson’, International Studies Quarterly, 57:3 (2013), p. 640.

65Osterhammel, Jürgen, Die Verwandlung der Welt: eine Geschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Munich: Beck, 2011), p. 20. Here and below, translations from German are mine. (The book was published as The Transformation of the World by Princeton University Press in 2014.)

66 Ibid., p. 118.

67Langewiesche, Dieter, ‘Das Jahrhundert Europas. Eine Annäherung in globalhistorischer perspektive’, Historische Zeitschrift, 296:1 (2013), pp. 29, 34.

68 It would suffice to compare Landes’, David S.The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor (New York: Norton, 1999) to C. A., Bayly’sThe Birth of the Modern World, 1789–1914 (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004) to see different historiographical takes on the European role in the modern world.

69 This should not mean, however, that there are not important problems of Eurocentrism in the discipline of history itself. See Goody, Jack, The Theft of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) for a recent important discussion that also extends to social sciences.

70Leira, Halvard, ‘International Relations pluralism and history: Embracing amateurism to strengthen the profession’, International Studies Perspectives, 16:1 (2015), p. 28.

71 See Lawson, George, ‘The eternal divide? History and International Relations’, European Journal of International Relations, 18:2 (2010), esp. pp. 221–222.

72 In a related context, discussing the (dis)connections between modernity and modernisation theory, Richard Wolin makes an important point when he calls for a form of ‘enlightened Eurocentrism’ that should provide a ‘self-critical Eurocentrism’ open to different cultural claims. See his ‘“Modernity”: The peregrinations of a contested historiographical concept’, The American Historical Review, 116:3 (2011), p. 747. The politico-historical Eurocentric legacy should not be, similarly, equated with the three forms of Eurocentrism.

73Drayton, Richard, ‘Where does the world historian write from? Objectivity, moral conscience and the past and present of Imperialism’, Journal of Contemporary History, 46:3 (2011), p. 673. The book is C. A. Bayly’s The Birth of the Modern World, 1789–1914. Noteworthy is Osterhammel’s (p. 16) caveat about his book’s relatively more Eurocentric nature compared to Bayly’s work.

74Bull, Hedley, ‘The theory of International Relations 1919–1969’, in James Der Derian (ed.), International Theory: Critical Investigations (New York: New York University Press, 1995), p. 208. Originally published in 1972.

75Bull, , ‘The theory’, p. 209.

76 See Dahrendorf, Ralf, Die angewandte Aufklärung: Gesellschaft und Soziologie in Amerika (Munich: R. Piper, 1963).

77Bull, , ‘The theory’, p. 209, emphasis added.

78 However, one has to note, as also Hobson does in Eurocentric Conception (p. 233), a later comment by Bull, made during his Hagey lecture in 1980: ‘… in choosing what parts of the historical past we examine we quite legitimately allow ourselves to be affected by our interest in the antecedents of events and issues that are important here and now. God forbid that we should turn away from Eurocentric international and imperial history towards so-called anti-imperialist or national liberation accounts of the past’. Although this position defends a more Eurocentric approach even in a rather explicit fashion, it is the ‘here’ and ‘now’ that should matter. Bull’s previous observations, discussed above, contradict these 1980 comments, and show his actual realisation of a changing world order. At the same time, these later explanations are also relevant with regard to my previous emphasis on the geo-historical epistemologies that scholars choose. Bull’s observation is in line with the position of choosing one’s historical (historiographical) starting point.

79 Stanley Hoffmann, ‘An American social science: International Relations’, in Der Derian (ed.), International Theory, p. 224. Originally published in 1977.

80 Ibid., p. 240.

81Patomäki, Heikki, ‘Back to the Kantian “Idea for a Universal History”? Overcoming Eurocentric accounts of the international problematic’, Millennium, 35:3 (2007), pp. 576–577. For a similar position see Vasilaki, ‘Provincialising IR’, p. 5.

82 Patomäki, ‘Back to the Kantian “Idea for a Universal History”?’, p. 582.

83 Ibid., p. 594.

84 It is in this historical sense that one can rethink Bull’s observations in his 1980 Hagey lecture that I discussed in fn. 78. For Bull, the world was changing, but its (previous) determinants were still Eurocentric when it came to a historical explanation of world politics.

85 Wallerstein, ‘Eurocentrism’.

86 Hans J. Morgenthau, ‘The intellectual and political functions of theory’, in Der Derian (ed.), International Theory, p. 47. Originally published in 1970.

87 See Schmidt, Brian C., The Political Discourse of Anarchy: A Disciplinary History of International Relations (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998); Knutsen, Torbjørn L., ‘A lost generation? IR scholarship before World War I’, International Politics, 45:6 (2008), pp. 650–674; Robert Vitalis, ‘Birth of a discipline’, in Long and Schmidt (eds), Imperialism and Internationalism, pp. 159–81.

88Hobsbawm, Eric, The Age of Empire (New York: Vintage, 1989).

89Lizée, Pierre, A Whole New World: Reinventing International Studies for the Post-Western World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 1.

90Telò, Mario, International Relations: A European Perspective (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), p. 10.

91 Ibid., p. 1.

92Harding, Sandra G., Is Science Multicultural?: Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998).

93Tickner, Arlene B. and Wæver, Ole, International Relations Scholarship, p. 334.

94 The volume does not have an entry on Eurocentrism in the index.

95 Tickner and Wæver, International Relations Scholarship, pp. 340, 329.

96 Lizée, Whole New World, p. 4.

97 Ibid., pp. 9–11.

98Acharya, Amitav, ‘Dialogue and discovery: In search of International Relations theories beyond the West’, Millennium, 39:3 (2011), p. 620.

99 Ibid., pp. 625, 624, 626.

100 Ibid., p. 621, fn. 10.

101 See Ikenberry, John and Mastanduno, Michael, International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003) and Paul, T. V., Larson, Deborah Welch, and William C., Wohlforth (eds), Status in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

102 This is also visible in the recent engagements with racism within IR. In addition to Vitalis, ‘Birth of a discipline’, there is also Race and Racism in International Relations: Confronting the Global Colour Line (London: Routledge, 2014), a volume co-edited by Alexander Anievas, Nivi Manchanda, and Robbie Shilliam, that deals with the problematic nature of racism in the discipline and global politics. The important aspect here pertains to the fact that this very focus is a result of a less Eurocentric IR, although race was also, as Vitalis has significantly demonstrated, at the origins of IR’s scholarly foundations. Stated differently, the gradual decline in Eurocentrism has paved the way for a more critical engagement with various aspects so far left unanalysed.

103Jones, , Decolonizing, p. 229.

104Tickner, Arlene, ‘Seeing IR differently: Notes from the Third World’, Millennium, 32:2 (2003), p. 301.

105 For relevant acknowledgements of this problem, see for instance Bilgin, Pınar, ‘Thinking past “Western” IR’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1 (2008).

106 The recent volumes co-edited by Arlene Tickner and David Blaney are an important step in this direction, as they go beyond the earlier assumptions about any non-Western scholarship being non-Eurocentric. To the contrary, they build on the idea that a real engagement beyond IR’s ‘West’ can only arise from more self-reflexive approaches that recognise the actual connections and differences between Western and non-Western thought and scholarship. See their Thinking International Relations Differently (London: Routledge, 2012) and Claiming the International (London: Routledge, 2013).

107Kristensen, Peter Marcus, ‘Revisiting the ‘American social science’: Mapping the geography of International Relations’, International Studies Perspectives, 16:3 (2015), p. 266.

108Koskenniemi, Martti, ‘Law, teleology and International Relations: An essay in counterdisciplinarity’, International Relations, 26:1 (2012), p. 18. The study is May, Ernest R., Rosecrance, Richard N., Steiner, and Zara, , History and Neorealism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

109Hagmann, Jonas and Biersteker, Thomas J., ‘Beyond the published discipline: Toward a critical pedagogy of international studies’, European Journal of International Relations, 20:2 (2014), pp. 291–315.

Simon Glendinning argues that Derrida’s views on Europe are more complex than has often been appreciated

Two months before his death in October 2004, Jacques Derrida gave an interview to the French newspaper Le Monde(English translation here) that turned out to be his last. Although he refused to treat it as an occasion in which to give what he called ‘a health bulletin’, he acknowledged that he was seriously ill, and the discussion is overshadowed by that fact: there is a strong sense of someone taking stock, someone taking the chance to give a final word.

In this context, what is so striking about the interview is not the wide range of topics that he covered—that was typical—but the extent to which Europe came to frame so many of his remarks on them.

Europe had been the theme of an analysis by Derrida in a text entitled The Other Heading: Reflections on Today’s Europe, written in 1991—written, then, as Europe was celebrating a ‘reunion’ after the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of Soviet communism. However, in the final interview Derrida drew his work as a whole into a European context, and he highlighted the extent to which his work was run through by critical reflections on what he called ‘Eurocentrism’.

Eurocentrism can be defined as that attitude that regards European culture and civilisation as superior to every other. It expresses a kind of uncritical and narcissistic self-love, self-congratulation, and celebratory back-slapping. For a Eurocentric thinker, Europe is not just one sample of human culture among others, not just one regional culture among others—but is the best example, the head of the pack: the avant-garde for the whole of humanity in its history and its development.

In his very early writings Derrida had tended to say his target was an ‘ethnocentric’ discourse, but as his work developed he more and more came to refer to it as ‘Eurocentric’. In the last interview he states that ‘since the beginning of my work… I have remained very critical with regard to Eurocentrism… Deconstruction in general is a project that many have taken, rightly so, as an act of defiance toward all Eurocentrism’. Derrida even says that this act of defiance ‘is deconstruction itself’.

This fact is both what marks the abiding significance of deconstruction and what led it on a path of near disaster. In the hands of a largely academic readership that was increasingly hostile to Europe’s global legacy and wanted nothing more to do with the Dead White European Males whose work had dominated the university curriculum, deconstruction became a new buzzword for rejecting the European heritage, for condemning everything European.

It was in this cultural cauldron that Derrida became the bête noire for anyone who retained a devoted interest in the classic canon of European thought; and became the new voice of defiance for a generation of academics who wanted to reject it—and who now had new words with which to do so: the European heritage could now be denounced as ‘logocentric’, ‘ethnocentric’, ‘phonocentric’, ‘phallogocentric’, ‘Eurocentric’.

However, while Derrida was indeed defiantly critical of Eurocentrism, he did not write, as he put it, in a ‘critical fury’ against the European heritage, but rather for the sake of that heritage, out of love for it, concerned above all to forge a future for it—but, yes, yes, a future beyond its dominant Eurocentrism. The point is that deconstruction was never a form of anti-Eurocentrism: it did not set out to condemn Europe or to replace Eurocentric self-love with anti-Eurocentric self-loathing. His claim was not that the great texts of the European heritage are finished, but precisely that they are not: there is more to be read, more to be thought. These great texts—in the final interview he mentions a line running from Plato, the Bible, to Kant, Marx, Freud, Heidegger, and beyond—still lie ahead of us and remain to be read. Derrida did not just want to open a path for thinking ‘beyond Eurocentrism’—but, equally, ‘beyond anti-Eurocentrism’ too.

Crucially this ‘beyond’ was not thought of as a movement that would simply break with the European tradition. On the contrary, this capacity to ‘break with itself’ was affirmed as precisely internal to that tradition—and hence the work of self-critique that Derrida undertook in the name of deconstruction was something he understood as a way of being faithful to Europe’s heritage. In the last interview, Derrida put it like this:

Since the days of the Enlightenment, Europe has been in a permanent state of self-critique, and in this tradition of perfectibility there is a hope for the future. At least I hope so, and this is what fuels my indignation before utterances that condemn Europe utterly, as if it were defined only by its crimes.

This European legacy of responsible and relentless self-critique is what Derrida wanted to save, to preserve, and to radicalize. In my view, Derrida is among those who should count most for us today—among those for whom the idea that we have finally done with the question of how to live is experienced most intensely, most keenly as something, today, to resist.

Simon Glendinning is Professor of European Philosophy in the European Institute, London School of Economics, and Director of the Forum. This post is based on his book Derrida: A Very Short Introduction(Oxford University Press, 2011). His research centres on the idea of European identities and developing a phenomenological approach to Europe.

This post first appeared on the OUPblog.

Image credit: thierry ehrmann, ‘Jacques Derrida, painted portrait’, License cc by 2.0.

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