Derrida’s Preoccupation with the Archive in The Beast and the Sovereign


L’archive pré-occupe l’avenir,” says Derrida in an interview published in Cahiers du Cinéma in 2001—“the archive pre-occupies the future.”1 In this one brief phrase, buried in a relatively obscure corner of the Derridean corpus, we find the already divided essence of Derrida’s thinking in The Beast and the Sovereign and elsewhere about the archive, about what might be called the two sources or two archai of the archive—that is, the archive as both threat and promise, turned toward both the past and the future, at once commencement and commandment.

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