Environmental Philosophy

Volume 16, Issue 1, Spring 2019

Reading Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign

Rebekah Sinclair
Pages 115-140

And Say the Animal Resisted? Derrida, Biopolitics, and the Problem with Species

My article does two things: 1) tracks Derrida’s claim that biopolitical and sovereign power use species taxonomies to performatively depoliticize and ignore the reciprocity of creaturely perspectives; and 2) argues Derrida makes possible a deconstruction of species, and demonstrates its necessity for better political futures. To do this, I follow Derrida’s criticism of autopsic logics and the circularity of metaphysics and zoology, and his affirmation of embodied singularity. Finally, I start and end with analyses of cetacean suicide: by privileging how others see themselves and us over our perspective of them, Derrida challenges what counts as political and who decides.