File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 114

Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2001 16:46:51 +0100
Subject: Ethics =?iso-8859-1?Q?=96?= Kristeva (Global)


One of the contemporary results of globalisation is the increasing
variety of ‘Others’ and the relationship between ourselves and them.
These others are not simply marginally different, small cultural groups
who are in some sense or other known, but rather seem to be a
proliferating set of communities, Others and groups. One result of the
increasing change in post-modern global societies is the necessity to
re-imagine the boundaries between the local and the stranger. In our
contemporary social(s) the growth of the number of strangers is growing
continuously (for example in the late 1980s - 12 languages were being
used in London schools, the number has increased since then.). To
recognise that a stranger exists the local community recognises and
accepts that the identity is unified and homogenous. Of course as the
number of strangers increases there are increasing challenges to the
local community… Julia Kristeva has recognised that with the increasing
number of local strangers there is an increasing level of aggression
towards them. Kristeva’s strategy in countering this aggressive
community is not to defend the specifics of  being a stranger but to
work towards questioning the very notion and category of human identity.
This critique shifts the ground, which may be called ethical, for the
stranger is no longer considered in opposition to the subject or citizen
but from the notion of belonging to the place on which the stranger
stands. Kristeva’s proposal of the stranger does not begin from a
defined selection of distinctive qualities, which might be considered as
advantageous for the local and settled community, instead Kristeva
interrogates to extent to which we are all strangers, even within our
settled communities. Identity is conceived as the process of reflecting
on what Kristeva has written as ‘strangers to ourselves…’ we are
consequently all strangers. “…a foreigner is neither the victem of our
clannish indolence not the intruder responsible for the ills of the
metropolis.  Neither the apocalypse on the move not the instant
adversery to be eliminated  for the sake of oppressing the group.
Strangely the foreigner lives  within us: he is the hidden face of our
identity, the space that wrecks the abode, the time in which
understanding and affinity founder. By recognising him within ourselves,
we are spared detesting him in himself. A sympton that precisely turns
‘we’ into a problem, perhaps makes it impossible. The foreigner comes in
when the consciousness of my difference arises, and he disappears when
we all acknowledge ourselves as foreigners, unanamable to bonds and
communities….”  The identity of the stranger cannot be confined to a
classical image of a precursor,  or the absurdly romantic outsider. The
stranger is no longer someone who can be considered marginal to the
social. Considering strangers is not a luxury, an intellectual exercise,
but a necessity of everyday existence…

This places and creates what can be considered an ethical practice
founded on a notion of the human subject as always being made up of
strangers, that the subject and the stranger are always ‘split’ and
endlessly divergent.  The representation and production of the stranger
requires new representational practices because strangers exist in
diverse forms and there cannot be a single form that covers this diverse
human experience… The ethical practice  is directed against, but built
on, previous notions of the stranger. It is founded on a notional
estrangement from which we can see the limits of what it is to be human
and to exist always already in the social. Instead of constructing a
universal construction of the subject/other relation Kristeva
reconstructs it as something more historical, more human which is
achieved by drawing out the identity of the stranger.




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