Maghrebi Intellectual: Thinking Jacques Derrida as African Philosopher

The Transforming Cultures Research Centre is hosting a Public Lecture with Prof. Grant Farred (Cornell University)

Maghrebi Intellectual: Thinking Jacques Derrida as African Philosopher
Thursday, 23rd July, 6:00-8:00, UTS Building 2, Lecture room 4.11

Lecture Abstract

It was not "the Nazis, but Vichy France," Jacques Derrida insists in "Monolingualism and the Other," that disenfranchised him. This is the voice of the "young" Jacques Derrida, articulating his relationship, from north Africa, to Europe (and European fascism). Derrida’s relationship, or, more properly speaking, his thinking himself back into the Maghreb, that region from which his family came and where he grew up, to Africa can only, it seems, be thought philosophically. In relation to thought, to the thought of other philosophers, to his own too long delayed understanding of himself as something other than a French philosopher. This is the work that Derrida undertakes in "Monolingualism:" it is his engagement with Khatebi, another Maghrebian philosopher. Here is Derrida, trying to think the Other, but in the process locating himself, for the first time at length, in the place of violent origin: war time Algeria: that place where fascism, Jewish disenfranchisement, the question of language (why is it that Derrida does not, he asks, know Arabic, why is it the language denied him? This, the language of Khatebi.) and the act of writing the Self back into something that is not only forgotten but, it would appear, hardly known.


Professor Grant Farred is from Cornell University and before that from the Literature Program at Duke University, where he taught courses in literature and cultural studies. Prof. Farred earned his PhD. from Princeton University in 1997, and an MA from Columbia University in 1990 after a BA Honours from University of the Western Cape, in Cape Town, South Africa in 1988. He also taught at Williams College and Michigan University. He has served as General Editor of the prestigious journal of critical cultural studies, South Atlantic Quarterly (SAQ) since 2002.

He has published in a range of areas, including postcolonial theory, race, formation of intellectuals, sport’s theory, and cultural studies and literary studies.  His books include Midfielder’s Moment: Coloured Literature and Culture in Contemporary South Africa (Westview Press, 1999), What’s My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), Phantom Calls: Race and the Globalization of the NBA (2006), and his most recent Long Distance Love: A Passion for Football, (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, published 2008). He is completing a fourth book manuscript entitled, Bodies in Motion, Bodies at Rest (forthcoming in from University of Minnesota Press, dedicated to thinking of the philosophy of athletic movement.) Prof. Farred also edited a volume entitled Rethinking CLR James (London: Blackwell Publishers, 1996) a collection of essays on the Caribbean intellectual written by major scholars in the field of history, literary criticism and cultural studies. He edited a special issue of SAQ (2004) entitled After the Thrill Is Gone: A Decade of Post-Apartheid South Africa, a serious appraisal of South African democracy, its failure and its successes, in the post-apartheid era. Prof. Farred joined the Africana Center in fall 2007.

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