Constituting community: Heidegger, mimesis and critical belonging

Odysseos, Louiza (2009) Constituting community: Heidegger, mimesis and critical belonging. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 12 (1). pp. 37-61. ISSN 1369-8230

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In his commentary on Martin Heidegger's 'politics', Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe noted that there is a continuous but unanswerable question of identification in Heidegger's thought. At the same time, Lacoue-Labarthe asks: why would the problem of mimesis, of identification, indeed, of 'community', not be considered the essential question of the political as such? In this article, I propose a consideration of the question of community and mimesis. I suggest that Heidegger's radically hermeneutic and heteronomous analysis of existence (Daseinanalytik) enables us to give a critical rereading of his cryptic, contentious and troubling statements on 'community' and 'people' in the infamous paragraph 74 of Being and time. My purpose is not solely exegetical with respect to Heidegger's argument, however. This rereading is primarily a retrieval of a productive understanding of how community comes to be constituted through the practice of 'critical mimesis' from Heidegger's thought, as developed by authors such as Peg Birmingham. Critical mimesis or identification, I argue, points to a type of relationship towards the community's past ('the tradition') that renders communal constitution by its members into a type of 'critical belonging'. Critical belonging involves critique, displacement and resistance towards the tradition and, as a questioning mode of identification, help us critically theorise community constitution beyond 'thick' and 'thin' dichotomies. It may also well aid us in examining empirical questions about the expansion of community, multiculturalism and social exclusion which are at the forefront of social and political concerns.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Louiza Odysseos
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:29
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2012 08:40
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