Guest lecture: Penelope Deutscher, "That Death Which is Not One: Woman as Exception in Derrida’s The Death Penalty"; 16.6., HKI

Professor PENELOPE DEUTSCHER (Nortwestern University):

‘That Death Which is Not One: Woman as Exception in Derrida’s The Death Penalty’

Time: Monday 16.6.2014 at 14-16

Venue: Main building, auditorium IX (Unioninkatu 34, University of Helsinki)

In his recently published Death Penalty seminar, Derrida describes death as distributed between the threshold states of termination of heart, brain and breath. He considers the death penalty in terms of a phantasmatic sovereign decision : the determination of the moment of another's death. But he also revisits a longstanding dialogue with Foucault. As Derrida returns to Discipline and Punish,  as he too considers the perversions of philanthropic, humanist cruelty, as both look back at the same passages  from Beccaria, an encounter takes  shape between Foucault and Derrida's treatments of sovereign power, disciplinary power, souls, cases, sovereign decisions, and biopolitical concerns. So too does an encounter take place between the images of  nation and progress  given (as Derrida observes) sexualized connotations, and images of the woman (sometimes reproductive)  before the sometimes deadly law of the nation (again, sometimes sexualized).  What kind of provocation to Foucault can we find in Derrida’s renewed interest in Death Penalty in sexual difference, and in the “sex which is not one” of the "death which is not one."

Penelope Deutscher is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and an affiliate of  the  Comparative Literary Studies and Gender and Sexualities programs at Northwestern University. She is the author of The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Ambiguity, Conversion, Resistance (Cambridge U.P, 2008),  How to Read Derrida (Granta/Norton 2005), A Politics of Impossible Difference: The Later Work of Luce Irigaray (Cornell U.P., 2002) and Yielding Gender: Feminism, Deconstruction and the History of Philosophy (Routledge 1997). She co-edited Repenser le  politique: l’apport du féminisme. (co-edited, with Françoise Collin, Campagne première/Les Cahiers du Grif, 2004) and  Enigmas: Essays on Sarah Kofman.,co-edited, with Kelly Oliver ( Cornell U.P. 1999). In 2000 she was guest editor of a special issue of Hypatia, Contemporary French Women Philosophers. She is the coeditor of a forthcoming volume of essays on Foucault and Derrida with Columbia University Press, and completing work on Foucault's Children: Biopolitics, Thanatopolitics, and Reproductive Futurism.


The doctoral programme Gender, Culture and Society (Sukupuoli, kulttuuri ja yhteiskunta, SKY) is a multidisciplinary programme based at Gender Studies at the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies in the University of Helsinki. The guest lecture is arranged by SKY together with Academy of Finland project Philosophy and Politics in Feminist Theory.