This essay discusses William V. Spanos’s work as the legacy of what can be called “ontopolitical criticism.” Spanos’s affiliation between texts and the world discloses the overlapping of the history of imperialistic and colonial violence with the politics of ontology, which constitutes the discourses, ideologies, and institutions that produce and consolidate the metaphysics of imperialism. Drawing on Martin Heidegger and the poststructuralists, Spanos’s work demonstrates that metaphysics, far from being inconsequential, is the discursive and political reproduction of a certain concept of being as a measure for other humans and as a philosophical and political justification for their dispossession, enslavement, and extermination, the very first acts of colonization. His insistence on the poststructuralists’ legacy of an antihumanist practice that desires to articulate the poetics and politics of the ontologies of alterity is not indifferent to politics. Spanos thus unearths the “overlapping territories and intertwined histories” (as Edward Said put it) that constitute the polis in the histories of colonialism, imperialism, and neoimperialism, the latter being his focus in his analyses of American exceptionalism in the age of globalization. His ontopolitical a-filiation establishes the possibility of articulating a kind of criticism that, while recognizing the history of this axiomatics of ontopology, also imagines and articulates the potentiality that is ex-centric (the derivative and negative prefix a- signifies this) to its narratives, discourses, and politics. Spanos’s legacy opens the possibility for a community of method driven by “the thought of a differential polity,” a constitutive element of a truly democratic politeia.
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Mina Karavanta; William V. Spanos’s Ontopolitical Criticism: Risky A-filiations and the Call of the Korē’s Meidiama. boundary 2 1 February 2015; 42 (1): 115–138. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2828290
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