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Jacques Derrida on South Africa: A CI Dossier

Critical Inquiry often prints critical responses to articles, along with replies from authors; the resulting exchanges can run across several issues of the journal.  The CI website will be posting classic debates from our archives, bringing together scattered pieces in a single, easily-accessible space.

Our first CI Dossier presents a heated debate on deconstruction and apartheid from 1985–86—a pivotal moment in the history of "theory" in America, as Cultural Studies asserted itself against the perceived inadequacies of literary deconstruction. Jacques Derrida's article entitled "Racism's Last Word," first appeared in CI's Autumn 1985 issue, 'Race,' Writing and Difference, which was in turn reprinted in book form.  We post the original article here, along with a critical response by Anne McClintock and Rob Nixon, and Derrida's own reply.

(Click on titles to view PDFs)

• ​Jacques Derrida, "Racism's Last Word' (Autumn 1985)

• Anne McClintock and Rob Nixon, “No Names Apart: The Separation of Word and History in Derrida's 'Le Dernier Mot du Racisme'” (Autumn 1986)

• Jacques Derrida, “But, beyond... (Open Letter to Anne McClintock and Rob Nixon)” (Autumn 1986)

  • Derrida's article first appeared in our Fall 1985 issue, "'Race, Writing, and Difference," edited by Henry Louis Gates, jr.