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Unformatted text preview: and traditional culture (Livingstone 1992; Godlewska and Smith 1994; Said 1993; 1979). 21 Arising from this subject/object dualism is Derrida’s notion of the privileged binary. Derrida (1978: 278‐293) has argued that much of Western thought was built on the logic of binary opposites, where one term forms a privileged center, and the other, in relation, is marginalized, devalued, or repressed: man/woman, white/black, nature/culture, and speech/writing, to name but a few examples. Examining the history of Western Philosophy from Socrates to the modern day, Derrida demonstrated that the marginalized repressed term is absolutely essential to the meaning of the privileged term (Figure 15). My own field of research, poverty, has its fair share of privileged binaries—DEVELOPED/Underdeveloped, RICH/Poor, NON‐PROBLEM/Problem, HIGHER/Lower, CENTER/Periphery, ADVANCED/Backward, KNOWING SUBJECT/Needy object, and so on. In each case the first category of the binary is the privileged one and the object of desire. In each of these the lesser category is essential for functioning of the higher category. Often, as is the case in the poverty discourse, the privileged term is offered as solution for the marginalized term, which is characterized as the problem. Derrida’s intent in examining such difference was not to privilege the marginalized term, but to undermine the very framework of thought that puts such binaries into play. Derrida introduced the term “deconstruction” which is a way of reading text to subvert the hierarchy in the binary, in order to destabilize the very framework that gives the binary its authorityto affect our lives. The idea that poverty can be eradicated by development is a good example of how Derrida’s privileged binaries work. As I have argued elsewhere, development is deeply implicated in the creation of poverty—it is in fact the flip side of the same coin. Development offered as solution to the very problem it creates—this is exactly how Derrida’s binaries work, and why he sought to...
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This document was uploaded on 01/24/2014.

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