Societies 2012, 2(4), 372-387; doi:10.3390/soc2040372
Article

“Nothing Exists Except an Earthenware Pot”: Resisting Sovereignty on Robinson’s Island

Received: 16 September 2012; in revised form: 13 December 2012 / Accepted: 13 December 2012 / Published: 18 December 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Of Beasts, Sovereigns and Societies)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: In this essay I would like to focus on “The Beast and the Sovereign”—and especially the Second Volume—as being something of an exception to Derrida’s usual hesitations about sovereignty. In other works, such as “Rogues”, Derrida displays a deep ambivalence about sovereignty insofar as for all of his condemnation of sovereign authority, he fears that what might replace it could be even worse (and, to be fair, he also sees positive aspects of sovereignty as well). In “The Beast and the Sovereign,” we find evidence of this ambivalence as well but here, Derrida comes a bit closer to the kind of position advocated by Walter Benjamin wherein sovereignty is an idolatrous practice of politics one which must not be eliminated so much as subverted. In particular, I focus on Derrida’s reading in Volume II of “Robinson Crusoe” as a text that both founds the sovereign subject and subverts it (by revealing its vulnerability, its fictional nature). In looking at how the book disappoints as much as it answers sovereign phantasms of authority and unity, I argue that Derrida transfers his own ambivalence about sovereignty to sovereignty itself, subverting and rupturing its central tenets in the process.
Keywords: Derrida; Benjamin; Defoe; sovereignty; subversion; authority; fiction; subjectivity; idolatry; Woolf
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MDPI and ACS Style

Martel, J.R. “Nothing Exists Except an Earthenware Pot”: Resisting Sovereignty on Robinson’s Island. Societies 2012, 2, 372-387.

AMA Style

Martel JR. “Nothing Exists Except an Earthenware Pot”: Resisting Sovereignty on Robinson’s Island. Societies. 2012; 2(4):372-387.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Martel, James R. 2012. "“Nothing Exists Except an Earthenware Pot”: Resisting Sovereignty on Robinson’s Island." Societies 2, no. 4: 372-387.

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