Derrida’s Nonpower—From Writing to Zoopower


Derrida’s displacement (after Bentham) of reason in favor of suffering as the key question in thinking about animals and his subsequent remarks on a “nonpower at the heart of power” are often taken as foregrounding a compassionate ethics in the face of the vulnerable (animal) other. This paper traces a genealogy of Derrida’s occasional remarks on power and passivity to question whether this ethical reading adequately accounts for Derrida’s “concept” of nonpower. In doing so, it pursues a counter-reading of nonpower, the implications of which are explored in the context of recent work on animals in biopolitics.

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