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Traces of a Half-Forgotten Dog: Suffering and Animal Humanity in Hélène Cixous' Algerian Scenes
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, Studies in Faith and Ideologies, Ethics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6768-5292
2017 (English)In: Literature & Theology, ISSN 0269-1205, E-ISSN 1477-4623, Vol. 31, no 4, p. 420-431Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Hélène Cixous’ engagement with animals is a significant but neglected aspect of her work. In this article I trace one specific character among her animals, Fips, a dog she had when she was living in Algiers during the late 1940s. By reflecting on this figure, I outline the way the dehumanising logic of colonialism and anti-Semitism are critiqued by Cixous. I lift up her themes of relationality and corporeality as constructive for animal studies. Taking the work of Jacques Derrida as a starting point, the article shows how Cixous’ primal encounter with Fips produces a wound that, belatedly, ruptures the barriers between herself and this dog; its dehiscence reveals Fips’ ‘profound animal humanity’ generated by shared suffering, finitude, and love. The lesson Cixous learns from revivifying the memory of this dog is, I suggest, how to become more human. The ‘humanity’ of the dog is the capacity to see and indeed love outside preconceived ideas: ‘Perhaps the irony is that we are never more human than when we are dogs.’ Becoming more human is an assault on the borders of racialised exclusion and a challenge to the false humanism of the colonial project.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Glasgow: Oxford University Press, 2017. Vol. 31, no 4, p. 420-431
Keywords [en]
Cixous; Derrida; Animal; Humanity; Wound; Algeria
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion Ethics General Literature Studies
Research subject
Ethics; Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-308751DOI: 10.1093/litthe/frx030ISI: 000417185100004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-308751DiVA, id: diva2:1050714
Projects
Ethics and the Politics of Writing: Membership, Testimony and Representation
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2014-968Available from: 2016-11-29 Created: 2016-11-29 Last updated: 2018-03-06Bibliographically approved

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Andersson, Helen

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