A former student and collaborator of Jacques Derrida, Catherine
Malabou has generated worldwide acclaim for her progressive
rethinking of postmodern, Derridean critique. Building on her
notion of plasticity, a term she originally borrowed from Hegel's
Phenomenology of Spirit and adapted to a reading of
Hegel's own work, Malabou transforms our understanding of the
political and the religious, revealing the malleable nature of
these concepts and their openness to positive reinvention.
In French to describe something as plastic is to recognize both
its flexibility and its explosiveness-its capacity not only to
receive and give form but to annihilate it as well. After defining
plasticity in terms of its active embodiments, Malabou applies the
notion to the work of Hegel, Heidegger, Levinas, Levi-Strauss,
Freud, and Derrida, recasting their writing as a process of change
(rather than mediation) between dialectic and deconstruction.
Malabou contrasts plasticity against the graphic element of
Derrida's work and the notion of trace in Derrida and Levinas,
arguing that plasticity refers to sculptural forms that accommodate
or express a trace. She then expands this analysis to the realms of
politics and religion, claiming, against Derrida, that "the event"
of justice and democracy is not fixed but susceptible to human
Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science
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