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Book: Discourses of Crisis and the Study of Religion

Chapter: 8. Force of Law: Resources in Derrida for Rethinking Policing

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.43938


The current crisis in law enforcement is a crisis of faith, according to the critique of law/enforcement offered in Jacques Derrida's "Force of Law: The Mystical Foundations of Authority". His analysis of the filiation of law to enforcement argues that law is founded both in an inescapable violence and in an authority that is founded on nothing more than its credibility, that is to say, the faith granted to its inscriptions. In its current iteration, the law and its enforcement is founded upon a theory of justice that violates the integrity of the other, of "otherness" as such, in privileging an ideal person equal before a universalizable law. As well, the ubiquitous violence of language which founds and preserves the law contests the aim of eliminating racialized violence among those who would defund or even abolish the police with. On the other hand, Derrida offers a remedy to the aporia of the current crisis by recalling a different iteration of justice, one that places "the other" at its axis. The following analysis aims to offer a coherent structural critique of the current crisis.

Chapter Contributors

  • Karen Elizabeth Zoppa ( - kzoppa) 'University of Winnipeg'