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Societies, Volume 3, Issue 1 (March 2013), Pages 1-157

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Research

Open AccessArticle Sovereignty without Mastery
Societies 2013, 3(1), 1-15; doi:10.3390/soc3010001
Received: 20 September 2012 / Revised: 13 December 2012 / Accepted: 13 December 2012 / Published: 27 December 2012
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Abstract
In The Beast and the Sovereign v.1, Derrida argues that classical sovereignty is linked to the performative act of declaring oneself master. Thus, each sovereign asserts a distinction between the masterful self and the mastered other. Derrida contends that the sovereign distinction between
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In The Beast and the Sovereign v.1, Derrida argues that classical sovereignty is linked to the performative act of declaring oneself master. Thus, each sovereign asserts a distinction between the masterful self and the mastered other. Derrida contends that the sovereign distinction between self and other maps onto a distinction between sovereign autonomy and a mechanical determination said to characterize others of all kinds. This gives rise to a differentiated binary between responsibility, capacity and restraint on the one side against reaction, instinct and danger on the other, which, Derrida suggests, operates across traditional separations, such as man/animal, man/machine, mind/body and, of course, sovereign and beast. This paper argues that Derrida’s reading of Paul Celan and Georges Bataille may be understood as a pursuit of an alternative sovereignty. This alternative sovereignty would be without mastery and its binaries. I suggest that Derrida finds such an alternative sovereignty in the “majesty” of poetry, which, in his own poetic gesture, allows him to upset traditional distinctions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Of Beasts, Sovereigns and Societies)
Open AccessArticle Of Plants, and Other Secrets
Societies 2013, 3(1), 16-23; doi:10.3390/soc3010016
Received: 1 December 2012 / Revised: 20 December 2012 / Accepted: 21 December 2012 / Published: 27 December 2012
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Abstract
In this article, I inquire into the reasons for the all-too-frequent association of plants and secrets. Among various hypotheses explaining this connection from the standpoint of plant morphology and physiology, the one that stands out is the idea that plants are not only
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In this article, I inquire into the reasons for the all-too-frequent association of plants and secrets. Among various hypotheses explaining this connection from the standpoint of plant morphology and physiology, the one that stands out is the idea that plants are not only objects in the natural environment, but also subjects with a peculiar mode of accessing the world. The core of the “plant enigma” is, therefore, onto-phenomenological. Positively understood, the secret of their subjectivity leaves just enough space for the self-expression and the self-interpretation of vegetal life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society)
Open AccessArticle Following Hegel’s Sovereign Beast: An Excursus on the Right of Heroes
Societies 2013, 3(1), 24-42; doi:10.3390/soc3010024
Received: 22 October 2012 / Revised: 25 December 2012 / Accepted: 25 December 2012 / Published: 4 January 2013
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Abstract
In The Beast and the Sovereign, Derrida addresses an association that is as paradoxical as it is common. On the one hand, it seems as if the sovereign is, or at least should be, the furthest from the beast. And yet, as
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In The Beast and the Sovereign, Derrida addresses an association that is as paradoxical as it is common. On the one hand, it seems as if the sovereign is, or at least should be, the furthest from the beast. And yet, as soon as we consult the various archives of political mythology––myth, theology, philosophy, art, etc.––we find them together, inseparable despite their distance. The seminar itself is a continuation of his previous explorations of the host concepts and figures that populate the political and philosophical history of sovereignty. The course takes him through a series of texts that stretches from Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes and Rousseau, to Freud, Heidegger, Lacan and Schmitt, among others, but his engagement with Hegel is limited. The few times that Hegel’s name does appear, it is almost exclusively a reference or aside within other more substantial engagements (Lacan and Heidegger, in particular). This absence is at least somewhat curious given the extent of Derrida’s previous engagements with Hegel’s corpus. I am not suggesting that this absence constitutes some essential oversight; rather, it is an opportunity to set out on an excursion from the course of The Beast and the Sovereign without leaving its territory. After all, Hegel also has an account of the origins of law. He, too, has a character that is set apart by his (almost) animal quality. This figure arrives on stage before history begins. His role––and indeed his “right”––is to found the most basic elements of the state. We are told that his “right” is absolute. He is no Lord. He is not driven by a desire for the recognition of the other. However, who confers this “absolute” right? If his actions are not bound by any measure or proportion, how do we distinguish between the hero and the criminal? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Of Beasts, Sovereigns and Societies)
Open AccessArticle ‘As Nobody I was Sovereign’: Reading Derrida Reading Blanchot
Societies 2013, 3(1), 43-51; doi:10.3390/soc3010043
Received: 1 October 2012 / Revised: 18 December 2012 / Accepted: 20 December 2012 / Published: 4 January 2013
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Abstract
In Session 7 (26 February 2003) of The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume II, Jacques Derrida engages again with Maurice Blanchot, two days after the latter’s cremation. This intervention also appears as a post-face to Derrida’s 2003 edition of Parages, his
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In Session 7 (26 February 2003) of The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume II, Jacques Derrida engages again with Maurice Blanchot, two days after the latter’s cremation. This intervention also appears as a post-face to Derrida’s 2003 edition of Parages, his collection of essays devoted to the work of Blanchot. In this article, I examine Derrida’s affinity to the work of Blanchot, as the one whose work ‘stood watch over and around what matters to me, for a long time behind me and forever still before me’ [The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume II, p. 176]. In doing so I look at the manner in which Derrida engaged with Blanchot in his work and how in examining this engagement another reading of sovereignty emerges, one which is not tethered to liberal models of sovereign will but one which eludes biopolitical ordering and may be seen as a form of disappearance. Through a reading of Derrida’s readings of Blanchot’s The Madness of the Day I emphasize the link of this alternative sovereignty to both writing and literature in order to demonstrate how a more radical thinking of sovereignty can be discovered in Derrida’s thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Of Beasts, Sovereigns and Societies)
Open AccessArticle From Zoomers to Geezerade: Representations of the Aging Body in Ageist and Consumerist Society
Societies 2013, 3(1), 52-65; doi:10.3390/soc3010052
Received: 31 August 2012 / Revised: 17 December 2012 / Accepted: 17 December 2012 / Published: 10 January 2013
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Abstract
This paper is based on an analysis of representations of seniors in the media. In particular, we examine images of the bodies of seniors in the advertising campaigns promoting a product called Geezerade sold in Circle K convenience stores in the Atlantic provinces
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This paper is based on an analysis of representations of seniors in the media. In particular, we examine images of the bodies of seniors in the advertising campaigns promoting a product called Geezerade sold in Circle K convenience stores in the Atlantic provinces of Canada in the summer of 2011. We contrast these with images of seniors in the Canadian magazine Zoomer, formally CARP magazine, a magazine published by the Canadian Association of Retired People, a seniors advocacy organization. Following Goffman’s arguments in his seminal presidential address to the American Sociological Association, “the Interaction Order”, we take the position in this analysis that the body does not determine social practices but none-the-less the body is the sign vesicle that enables interaction. Concomitant however, while the images of bodies we see in the media do not determine the signs given and given off via bodily presentation, they none-the-less provide us with the categories by which we interpret those signs. We conclude that the images in the Geezerade campaign and Zoomer magazine represent a binary model of images of seniors that reflects ageist and classist assumptions about the bodies of seniors. Such a model limits the categories through which we understand the aging body and fails to account for the diversity of seniors’ bodies in society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Embodied Action, Embodied Theory: Understanding the Body in Society)
Open AccessArticle Fear, Sovereignty, and the Right to Die
Societies 2013, 3(1), 66-79; doi:10.3390/soc3010066
Received: 31 October 2012 / Revised: 4 January 2013 / Accepted: 5 January 2013 / Published: 16 January 2013
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Abstract
This paper addresses the “right to die” through the lens of Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume One. Specifically focusing on the case of Tony Nicklinson v. Ministry of Justice, 2012, the essay posits two things. First, Derrida’s insight helps us
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This paper addresses the “right to die” through the lens of Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume One. Specifically focusing on the case of Tony Nicklinson v. Ministry of Justice, 2012, the essay posits two things. First, Derrida’s insight helps us understand how a “fear of death” is a fundamental performative feature of sovereignty politics. Second, in order to maintain its performative role, sovereignty must perpetuate the belief that “man is wolf to man.” I argue that, in right-to-die cases, this has the effect of precluding compassionate reasons for taking the life of another. Thus, I posit that these two points, in part, explain how right-to-die cases fail on appeal. All is not lost, however, as this essay advances Derrida’s position that these performative workings of sovereignty, which currently preclude the right to die, are entirely deconstructable. As such, exploring how right-to-die cases are articulated in law permits a deconstruction of sovereignty politics and allows us to open up other ways of thinking about the relation between sovereignty, life, death, and our relationships with “others”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Of Beasts, Sovereigns and Societies)
Open AccessArticle The Mexican Drug War and the Consequent Population Exodus: Transnational Movement at the U.S.-Mexican Border
Societies 2013, 3(1), 80-103; doi:10.3390/soc3010080
Received: 10 December 2012 / Revised: 18 January 2013 / Accepted: 23 January 2013 / Published: 25 January 2013
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Abstract
At the frontline of México’s “war on drugs” is the Mexican-U.S. border city of Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, which has become internationally known as the “murder capital of the world.” In Juárez, which neighbors El Paso, Texas, United States, estimates of the murders in
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At the frontline of México’s “war on drugs” is the Mexican-U.S. border city of Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, which has become internationally known as the “murder capital of the world.” In Juárez, which neighbors El Paso, Texas, United States, estimates of the murders in Juárez are as high as 7,643 between 2006 and 2011, leaving approximately 10,000 orphans. Juárez has also experienced an exodus of approximately 124,000 people seeking safety, some migrating to the Mexican interior and others to the U.S., particularly along the U.S.-México border. Based on 63 in-depth interviews with Juárez-El Paso border residents, along with ethnographic observations, we examine the implications of the “war on drugs” on transnational movements and on the initial settlement of those escaping the violence. In particular, we construct a typology of international migrants who are represented in the Juárez exodus: the Mexican business elite, the “Refugees without Status,” and those who resided in México but who are U.S. born or have legal permanent residency in the U.S. This article highlights the role of transnational capital in the form of assets and income, social networks in the U.S., and documentation to cross the port of entry into the U.S. legally, in easing migration and initial settlement experiences in the U.S. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue On the Move: Human Migration Past, Present and Future)
Open AccessArticle Double Marginalized Livelihoods: Invisible Gender Inequality in Pastoral Societies
Societies 2013, 3(1), 104-116; doi:10.3390/soc3010104
Received: 18 January 2013 / Revised: 1 February 2013 / Accepted: 4 February 2013 / Published: 6 February 2013
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Abstract
Achieving gender equality is the Third Millennium Development Goal, and the major challenge to poverty reduction is the inability of governments to address this at grass root levels. This study is therefore aimed at assessing gender inequality as it pertains to socio-economic factors
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Achieving gender equality is the Third Millennium Development Goal, and the major challenge to poverty reduction is the inability of governments to address this at grass root levels. This study is therefore aimed at assessing gender inequality as it pertains to socio-economic factors in (agro-) pastoral societies. It tries to explain how “invisible” forces perpetuate gender inequality, based on data collected from male and female household heads and community representatives. The findings indicate that in comparison with men, women lack access to control rights over livestock, land, and income, which are critical to securing a sustainable livelihood. However, this inequality remains invisible to women who appear to readily submit to local customs, and to the community at large due to a lack of public awareness and gender based interventions. In addition, violence against women is perpetuated through traditional beliefs and sustained by tourists to the area. As a result, (agro-) pastoral woman face double marginalization, for being pastoralist, and for being a woman. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Secret, the Sovereign, and the Lie: Reading Derrida’s Last Seminar
Societies 2013, 3(1), 117-127; doi:10.3390/soc3010117
Received: 8 October 2012 / Revised: 14 February 2013 / Accepted: 15 February 2013 / Published: 15 February 2013
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Abstract
This paper takes up the question of secrecy and sovereignty in Derrida’s final seminar on The Beast and the Sovereign. Focusing primarily on Derrida’s readings of Lacan and Celan in Volume I, it argues that, for Derrida, we should distinguish between
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This paper takes up the question of secrecy and sovereignty in Derrida’s final seminar on The Beast and the Sovereign. Focusing primarily on Derrida’s readings of Lacan and Celan in Volume I, it argues that, for Derrida, we should distinguish between the lie (or what Lacan calls ‘trickery’ or ‘feigning feint’), and the secret (or what Celan calls ‘the secret of an encounter’), and understand the sense in which the former implies an intentional and sovereign human subject, while the latter represents a limit to such a thing, and, arguably, to the concept of sovereignty as such. This explains, or helps explain, why, in his discussions of sovereignty, Derrida spends so much time examining the animal, on the one hand, and poetry, on the other. For, on his account, these both configure secrecy, and specifically what I refer to as the absolute secret. Full article
Open AccessArticle Culture Matters: Individualism vs. Collectivism in Conflict Decision-Making
Societies 2013, 3(1), 128-146; doi:10.3390/soc3010128
Received: 25 January 2013 / Revised: 1 March 2013 / Accepted: 4 March 2013 / Published: 12 March 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (281 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Does culture matter in decision-making? Existing literature largely assumes that the cognitive processes that inform decision-making are universally applicable, while only very few studies indicate that cultural norms and values shape cognitive processes. Using survey based quasi-experimental design, this research shows that subjects
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Does culture matter in decision-making? Existing literature largely assumes that the cognitive processes that inform decision-making are universally applicable, while only very few studies indicate that cultural norms and values shape cognitive processes. Using survey based quasi-experimental design, this research shows that subjects with higher levels of individualism tend to be more rational in their decision processing, while those with higher levels of collectivism tend to be more dependent and less likely to betray the interests of members of more central ingroups in favor of less central ingroups. Furthermore, the results indicate that in conflict settings that seem familiar, individuals are more likely to compromise in order to achieve peace. Full article
Open AccessArticle Seeing Green: The Re-discovery of Plants and Nature’s Wisdom
Societies 2013, 3(1), 147-157; doi:10.3390/soc3010147
Received: 17 February 2013 / Revised: 7 March 2013 / Accepted: 11 March 2013 / Published: 15 March 2013
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Abstract
In this article, I endeavor to recount the odd history of how we have come to perceive plants like we do, and illustrate how plants themselves perceive and sense the world and, most importantly, what they can tell us about Nature. Through examples
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In this article, I endeavor to recount the odd history of how we have come to perceive plants like we do, and illustrate how plants themselves perceive and sense the world and, most importantly, what they can tell us about Nature. Through examples of the ingenious ways plants have evolved to thrive, I engage the idea that our modern society is afflicted by a severe disorder known as plant blindness, a pervasive condition inherited from our forefather Aristotle and accountable for the current state of vegetal disregard and hence environmental dilapidation. I propose that the solution to this state of affairs rests in a radical change of perspective, one that brings the prevailing, yet defective, Aristotelian paradigm together with its expectations on how Nature should behave to an end. Enacted, such change releases us into a new experience of reality, where the coherent nature of Nature is revealed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society)

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