Cosmopolitanism to Come: Derrida and Latin American Border Thinking

Fred Evans, César Zamorano Díaz


In an age where diversity is increasingly accepted as a value as well as a fact, ethico-political cosmopolitanism should propose a notion of global unity that is composed of rather than imposed on difference. Jacques Derrida and Walter Mignolo offer different versions of this view of cosmopolitanism. Derrida’s version is based on his notion of “democracy to come”. He characterizes this notion as an “unconditional” or “quasi-transcendental” injunction. Mignolo castigates this injunction as an “abstract universal”. He offers instead “a critical and dialogic” view of cosmopolitanism that is based more speci cally on the “colonial difference” or “border thinking” of Latin American subaltern groups. I argue that Derrida’s many implicit and explicit references to “voices” suggest a third alternative. This contender avoids certain problems in Derrida’s and Mignolo’s otherwise compelling views of cosmopolitanism. It also retains the universality of Derrida’s unconditional injunction but on the basis of the sort of worldly immanency urged by Mignolo’s border thinking. 


cosmopolitanism, democracy to come, equality, Derrida, border thinking, Latin America, Mignolo, voice


Anzaldúa, G. (1999). Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, 2nd. ed. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books.

Appiah, K. A. (2006). Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Beverley, J. (2004). Subalternity and Representation: Arguments in Cultural Theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

CCRI-CG (Comite Clandestino Revolucionario Indígena, Comandancia General del Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional) (1995). Shadows of Tender Fury: The Letters and Communiques of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, trans. Frank Bardacke, Leslie Lopez, and the Watsonville, California Human Rights Committee. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press.

Cixous, H. (2009). “Jacques Derrida: Co-Responding Voix to You”, in Derrida and the Time of the Political, ed. Pheng Cheah and Suzanne Guerlac. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Derrida, J. (2007). “A Certain Impossible Possibility of Saying the Event”, in The Later Derrida, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell and Arnold I. Davidson. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, pp. 223-243.

Derrida, J. (2005a). Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.

Derrida, J. (2005b). The Politics of Friendship, tans. Georges Collins. London: Verso.

Derrida, J. (2003). “Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides – A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida”, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, in Philosophy in a Time of Terror, ed. Giovanna Borradori. Chicago: Chicago University Press, pp. 85-136.

Derrida, J. (2002). Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971-2001, ed., trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Derrida, J. (2001). On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness, trans. Mark Dooley and Michael Hughes. London: Routledge.

Derrida, J. (1999a). Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas, trans. M. Nass and P.-A. Brault. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Derrida, J. (1999b). “Marx & Sons”, in Ghostly Demarcations: A Symposium on Jacques Derrida’s Specters of Marx, ed. Michael Sprinker. London: Verso, pp. 213-269.

Derrida, J. (1995). “Khora”, On the Name, trans. ed. Thomas Dutoit. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 89-127.

Derrida, J. (1994a). “The Spatial Arts: An Interview with Jacques Derrida”, Peter Brunette and David Wills, trans. Laurie Volpe, in Deconstruction and the Visual Arts: Art, Media, Architecture, ed. Peter Brunette and David Wills. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 9-32.

Derrida, J. (1994b). Specters of Marx, trans. Peggy Kamuf. New York: Routledge.

Derrida, J. (1992a). The Other Heading: Reflections on Today’s Europe, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael B. Nass. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Derrida, J. (1992b). Acts of Literature, ed. D. Attridge. London: Routledge.

Derrida, J. (1973). Speech and Phenomena: And Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs, trans. David B. Allison. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Derrida, J. and Anne Dufourmantelle (2000). Of Hospitality, trans. Rachel Bowlby. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Evans, F. (2013). “The Clamor of Voices: Neda, Barack, and Social Philosophy”, Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, 17 (2), Fall,/Automne, 2013, 158-177.

Evans, F. (2008, 2011). The Multivoiced Body: Society, Communication, and the Edge of Diversity. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gasché, R. (2009). Europe, or the Infinite Task: A Study of a Philosophical Concept. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Gasché, R. (1986). The Tain of the Mirror: Derrida and the Philosophy of Reflection. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Grijalva, J. C. (2004). “Vasconcelos o La Búsqueda de la Atlántida. Exotismo, Arqueología y Utopía del Mestizaje en La Raza Cósmica”, Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, Año XXX, No. 60, Lima-Hanover, 2do. Semestre de 2004, 329-345.

Hägglund, M. (2008). Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Holloway, J. (1996). “Dignity’s Revolt”, in Zapatista! Reinventing Revolution in Mexico, eds. J. Holloway and E. Pelaez. London and Sterling, VA: Pluto Press, pp. 159-98.

Lawlor, L. (2007). This is not Sufficient: An Essay on Animality and Human Nature. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Letich, V. B. (2007). “Late Derrida: The Politics of Sovereignty”, in The Later Derrida, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell and Arnold I. Davidson. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.

Lugones, M. (1994). “Purity, Impurity, and Separatio”, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 19:2, 458-479.

Mendieta, E. (2009). “From Imperial to Dialogical Cosmopolitanism”, Ethics and Global Politics, 2.3, 241-258.

Mendieta, E. (2007). Global Fragments: Globalization, Latinamericanisms, and Critical Theory. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Mignolo, W. (2010). “Introduction: Immigrant Consciousness”, in Rodolfo Kusch, Indigenous and Popular Thinking in América, trans. María Lugones and Joshua M. Price. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Mignolo, W. (2000a). “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism”, Public Culture 12:3, 721-748.

Mignolo, W. (2000b). Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Subcomandante Marcos, “Interview”, Chiapas, no. 3, 1996, 109-117.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Fred Evans, César Zamorano Díaz

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Licencia de Creative Commons

Instituto de Filosofía - Facultad de Humanidades - Universidad de Valparaíso
Calle Serrano # 546, Valparaíso. Chile - Fono: +56 32 299 5826