Insistering Derrida: Cixous, Deconstruction, and the Work of Archive


  • Verne Harris



Critical Archival Studies


Geneses, Genealogies, Genres, and Genius: The Secrets of the Archive is the lecture Jacques Derrida gave in 2003 at an event to honor Hélène Cixous and mark the donation of her archive to the National Library of France. The lecture was a moving tribute to Cixous (her corpus, her genius, her archive), but it was also Derrida's reading of Cixous' "secrets of the archive". This essay explores "the secrets" - those of Cixous, those of Derrida - along two primary lines of enquiry. On the one hand, the question of archival stakes - what stakes are at play in archive? On the other, the question of the work of archive. For both Cixous and Derrida the work of archive is an endless opening to what is being "othered" and a tireless importuning of a justice-to-come. The work of archive is justice. But what does that work look like? Is there a deconstructive praxis in archive shaped by the call to, and of, justice? What stranger emerges from an insistering of the familiar Derridean formulations?