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Death and Other PenaltiesPhilosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration$
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Geoffrey Adelsberg, Lisa Guenther, and Scott Zeman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823265299

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823265299.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 03 August 2021

U.S. Racism and Derrida’s Theologico-Political Sovereignty

U.S. Racism and Derrida’s Theologico-Political Sovereignty

(p.83) U.S. Racism and Derrida’s Theologico-Political Sovereignty
Death and Other Penalties

Geoffrey Adelsberg

Fordham University Press

This chapter first aims to provide a working definition of the relation between religion, politics, and the death penalty. Second, it offers an interpretation of Derrida's methodology, asking: Why does Derrida focus his analysis on the rarefied realms of sovereignty and religion qua Western European sovereignty rather than on the particular histories of the death penalty in the countries where it is/was practiced? It argues that Derrida's methodological avoidance of the history of the death penalty is premised upon the thought that abolitionist movements are at their strongest when they conceive of the death penalty as central to the state rather than an instrument of its criminal law. It interprets Angela Y. Davis's account of the connection between slavery, the death penalty, and prisons as a critical supplement to Derrida's theologico-political analysis of the death penalty. It contends that the death penalty during slavery and the prisons that thrived in the wake of U.S. post-Emancipation Reconstruction reveals a continuing differential exposure of Black and Brown people to sovereign decision. The chapter concludes by suggesting that this differential exposure of Black and Brown people to sovereign decision is a structural feature of European sovereignty.

Keywords:   religion, politics, death penalty, Derrida, European sovereignty, Angela Y. Davis, slavery, abolitionist movements

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