This article examines Jacques Derrida’s work of self-reflection on his own teaching practice by using as a guiding thread the problematics of reproduction in the seminars of the 1970s. The first part of the article examines the sequence of seminars taught by Derrida at École normale supérieure from 1971 to 1977 to show how the concept of reproduction is deconstructed by Derrida across several seminars. Derrida systematically demonstrates, across several themes and fields (sociology and economy, biology and sexuality, art, technique, ontology, and so on), that the critical recourse to the concept of reproduction (for instance, in its Marxist form) risks being complicit in the reproductive system it criticizes. The deconstructive motif of débordement is introduced to problematize this onto-logic of re-production. The second part of the article analyzes more specifically the unpublished seminar GREPH, le concept de l’idéologie chez les idéologues français (1974–75), in which Derrida examines the seminar function, his role as a teacher, and his own situation within the French educational system. In particular, Derrida offers a deconstructive critique of the reproductive effects of teaching, and of the institution of philosophy inasmuch as it functions as a reproductive machine. This work of deconstruction is done in the seminar notably through readings of Marx, Engels, and Althusser, with special attention to the concepts of ideology, reproduction, and sexual difference.
Re/pro/ductions: Ça déborde
Thomas Clément Mercier was awarded a PhD in philosophy and political theory by King’s College London’s Department of War Studies in 2017. He is currently a FONDECYT Fellow at the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez in Santiago, Chile. His work has been published in journals such as Global Discourse, Oxford Literary Review, Derrida Today, Revue ITER, Parallax, Ostium, Demarcaciones, Contexto Internacional, and CR: The New Centennial Review. He specializes in political thought and international studies, with a particular interest in the multilayered problematics of democracy, violence and political resistance from the perspectives of deconstruction, Marxism, and queer and decolonial thought. Among other projects, he is currently working on an edition of the correspondence between Louis Althusser and Jacques Derrida.
Thomas Clément Mercier; Re/pro/ductions: Ça déborde. Poetics Today 1 March 2021; 42 (1): 23–47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-8752601
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