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Kristeva - Foreign Body

Kristeva - Foreign Body

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Published by: Lady Mosad on Oct 16, 2011
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06/18/2013

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W.E.B. Du Bois Institute
Foreign BodyAuthor(s): Julia Kristeva and Scott L. MalcomsonSource:
Transition,
No. 59 (1993), pp. 172-183Published by: Indiana University Press on behalf of the W.E.B. Du Bois InstituteStable URL:
Accessed: 06/12/2009 16:11
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Transition.
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T R AN S I T ION
Conversation
FOREIGN
BODY
AconversationwithJuliaKristevaandScott L.Malcomson.
Attheageof25,JuliaKristevaemergedfull-grownfrom the cabin of aBulgarianairplane.It was1966. LacanpublishedEcrits,FoucaultpublishedTheOrderofThings,and Kristevalet herself looseinthecandyshop.The nextyearherarticlesbegan appearinginthe mostprestigiousjournalsandhavebeenever since.RolandBarthesreviewedherfirstbook: "Shealways destroysthelatestpreconception,the one wethoughtwecould be comfortedby,theone of whichwecould beproud."Theatmosphereofthoseyearswasevidentlyboth destruc-tive andcommunitarian,such that anintellectual could at once demolish thepreconceptionsof hercompanionsandjoinwith them ingroups.Both decisionswereseen aspolitical.Kristeva wasaffiliatedfirst with thestructuralistsandsemioticians,then with the avant-gardistsatTelQuel,then with Maoists(TelQuelagain),andonto Lacanianpsy-choanalysts.At the sametime,shewascritiquingall of them and some othersbesides,notablyfeminists.To havehad somany loyalties,andbeendisloyal simultaneouslyis,if noth-ingmore,a testament totheintellectualvitalityofKristeva andof Paris.Therehave, however,been someconsistentthemes inherwork. Shenearlyalwaysproposessomerebellious,fearfullyun-hingedrealm-pre-Oedipalsemiotic,maternal,imaginary,chora,foreignness-whichexistsalongsideandwith an or-derly,closeddomain-symbolic,Law oftheFather,the nation(oruniversalism).The two worlds don't oftenget along.Kristevausuallysides with the firstone,which is notsurprising,as sheisaforeign,maternalrebelwithplentyofimagination.StrangersoOurselves,firstpublishedin1989,translated intoEnglishin1991,isameditation onl'etranger,theforeigner/stranger.Its firstsectionisadelirious "Toccatta andFuguefortheForeigner,"combiningautobiographicalmaterial withstoriesgleanedfromherpsychoanalysands.The rest isahistoryof theWestern notion offoreigner,fromAeschylusto theEEC.Thebook's se-quel,Nations WithoutNationalism,will bepublishedthisyear.Inboth,Kristevatries tofigureout awaytokeepher two
172TRANSITIONISSUE59
 
warringworlds,oneraw,onecooked,inahappybalance.Wantingneitherthecoldtyrannyof OneWorlduniversalismnorthe isolationistmicrotyrannyofnationalisms,Kristeva islookingforabettercosmopolitanism.Unfortunately,Parisisn't whatit used tobe,and she'salsolookingfora newcountry,as shetoldme onewintry dayin a borrowedapartmentoverlookingthe HudsonRiver.JuliaKristeva:Idon'tfeelverycom-fortablenowin France. I feel likeaveryprivilegedimmigrant,but neverthelessanimmigrant.I feel anincreasinghos-tility.So one ofthe reasonsIcame is tosee whetherIcanbegina newexile,maybenotin theUnitedStates,asmyEnglishis notvery good,butperhapsinCanada.Ihad the notionthat these coun-tries,maybebecausetheyare countriesofimmigrants,would bemoreopen.ButIdon'thave theimpressionthatyouare much moreadvancedthan we! Thereisperhapsahistoryofwelcomingim-migrants,butin actual fact there'sawarherebetween the ethnicgroups,andanintolerance.OfcourseIcould livein auniversityghetto.But that isn'twhatIwant.Iwouldlike to livein apolyvalentnationalcommunity.ButIdon'thave
FOREIGNBODY 173JuliaKristeva
CJohn Foley

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