Sovereignty without sovereignty: Derrida’s Declarations of Independence

21 Jun 2012

This article questions the common assumptions in legal theory regarding Derrida’s well-known Declarations of Independence. Through a close reading of this text, well-known ground such as the relation between speech and writing, the notion of representation, speech act theory, the signature, and the proper name is covered. The contribution that this analysis makes in the present context lies in the additional ‘step’ that it takes. The article seeks to give an explanation of the laws at work in Derrida’s thinking in the above respects and to explain more specifically how they find expression in Declarations of Independence. The article in this regard also investigates the importance and role of the ‘notions’ of death, loss of meaning, loss of ownership, and loss of sovereignty in Derrida’s thinking. The contention is that if we take account of Derrida’s reading in Declarations of Independence, it is possible to view constitutions in a very different way, more specifically their ‘origins’, with inevitable implications for constitutional interpretation.