Synthesis (16.2023)

Derrida à l’oeuvre: “Doing Theory” Against Inequalities

Special Issue Editors: Sara Nyhlen and Katarina Giritli-Nygren

Welcome are papers that explore Jacques Derrida's work on nation, gender and race in relation to the current ethical and political studies of in/equalities in the field of social sciences. Derrida’s philosophical work has engendered concepts that offer new pathways to think about difference, the Other, living together, (dis)belonging and rights and destroy unchallenged and, thus, perpetuated racist, nationalist, ethnocentric and sexist presuppositions. The impact of Derrida’s work in the present, nearly twenty years since his death, is growing, even in areas of research that did not initially engage his thought. For instance, the rising interest in the use of the spectral as a conceptual metaphor in the field of sociology and more recently, criminology, exemplifies a spectral turn in these fields, which relates Derrida’s concept of hauntology in Specters of Marx (1994) to ongoing debates about the targeting of minority groups or the criminalization and minoritizing of specific ethnic collectivities. Other examples of the impact of Derrida’s philosophical work that has been used as a tool for the ethical and political critique of social and political injustices are the ongoing discussions about conditional and unconditional hospitality, nationalism, the human/non-human divide, minority collectivities and their histories that speak to the destruction of the human, as well as about the archival politics and the preservations of the records of past and possible futures.

We are interested in broadening the use of Derrida’s work as a political tool for understanding the present. As del Pilar Blanco and Peeren (2013:1) argue, the spectral  metaphor as a conceptual tool “performs theoretical work,” by becoming an analytical tool which “does theory.” This special issue invites submissions from social sciences that either engage specific political and ethical aspects of Derrida’s philosophical work and/or draw from his work to perform empirical analyses and/or ethico-political critiques of in/equalities.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Theorizing ethico-political critiques of (in)equality
  • Critical studies of (in)equalities within social sciences
  • Intersectionality and ethico-political critique
  • Exclusionary and violent dimensions of policy and politics
  • The political as an ethical space

Deadline for Submissions (6,000-8,000 words):  September 29, 2023

Publication: September 2024

Guest Editors: Sara Nyhlen ( & Katarina Giritli-Nygren (, Mid Sweden University

For any further queries regarding the special issue, please contact the Guest Editors and the Special Editors at