Peggy Kamuf is Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and of Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. Among her most recent books are Book of Addresses (Stanford University Press, 2005) and To Follow: The Wake of Jacques Derrida (Edinburgh University Press, 2010). Her essays on literary theory, the university, and deconstruction have appeared in journals and anthologies in the United States, Canada, Britain, and throughout Europe. She is project director of the NEH grant supporting the Derrida Seminars Translation Project and co-editor, with Geoffrey Bennington, of the series The Seminars of Jacques Derrida at the University of Chicago Press.
PROTOCOL: DEATH PENALTY ADDICTION
Article first published online: 9 AUG 2012
© 2012 The University of Memphis
The Southern Journal of Philosophy
Special Issue: Spindel Supplement: Derrida and the Theologico-Political: From Sovereignty to the Death Penalty
Volume 50, Issue Supplement s1, pages 5–19, September 2012
How to Cite
KAMUF, P. (2012), PROTOCOL: DEATH PENALTY ADDICTION. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 50: 5–19. doi: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2012.00118.x
- Issue published online: 9 AUG 2012
- Article first published online: 9 AUG 2012
“What if the death penalty were a drug?” This question opens the essay and is pursued through two very different kinds of texts. On the one hand, Derrida's 1999–2000 Death Penalty Seminar is brought to bear for its analysis of what is called there the “anesthesial logic” of capital punishment. This logic, Derrida argues, has determined both pro– and anti–death penalty discourses since at least the mid-eighteenth century. On the other hand, the essay gathers evidence of events that led, in 2010, to the unavailability in the United States of sodium thiopental—the anesthetic component of the three-drug protocol of the lethal injection—which forced many death penalty states to halt executions. Current events thus confirm the philosopher's analysis that anesthesia is indeed the lynchpin of the apparatus of state-sanctioned executions. But the analysis of this anesthesial logic also leads one to pose the further question of who is being anesthetized by this protocol and its discursive devices: the sentenced or the sentencers?