Postcolonial redemption: Agamben's thought as transformative chresis

Simone Bignall

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    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Contemporary Continental Philosophers frequently take the Holocaust as a point of departure. While their concern to investigate the conceptual operations underwriting the attempted annihilation of Europe's internal Others is undeniably important, it is troubling how far less attention has been given to the colonial violence waged upon Europe's external Others, and to the role played by philosophy in its justification and process. This general neglect on the part of Continental Philosophy to address reflexively its own past uses and imperial inclinations is all the more troubling because European colonization has a continuing legacy. Australia, for example, comprises an imposed settler society that remains unreconciled with the Indigenous peoples it displaced. Is this problematic colonial history of European thought redeemable, and if so, then what might constitute a postcolonial redemption of Continental Philosophy? Giorgio Agamben is one Continental thinker who has devoted significant attention to a notion of "redemption," which is realized in an ethos of practice that he theorizes in terms of Pauline chre¯sis, or "transformative use." However, the relevance of Agamben's concepts in non-Western situations is unclear, since he insists that his most influential paradigms apply only to Western political contexts and to the internal operation of European forms of political exception. I engage with the apparent insularity of Agamben's Eurocentric Philosophy by testing whether his concepts and paradigms are "useful" for thinking about postcolonial justice in Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-54
    Number of pages26
    JournalConcentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


    • "the West"
    • Chre¯sis (use)
    • Colonialism
    • Decolonization
    • Dispossession
    • Redemption


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