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Virtually Impossible: Deleuze and Derrida on the Political Problem of Islands (and Island studies)

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 13:11 authored by Williams, S
It is commonplace to think of an island as a discreetly bounded unit. Selected writings on islands by the poststructuralist philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida reveal the island variously to be both real and imaginary, mythological and scientific, but as most problematic when constituted in political terms as an indivisible, sovereign entity. These two thinkers’ more broadly developed concepts of the virtual and the impossible, respectively, are seen to disrupt any assumptions about the fixity and closure of the island polity. Instead they emphasize its actualization through processual relations that can be difficult and yet are dynamic and decisive in effecting the move from being to becoming-other. However, as the possibilities for instituting more ethical as well as different political relations are subsequently opened up, the question of island studies remaining in its currently coherent, familiar form is raised for consideration.


Publication title

Island Studies Journal








School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


University of Prince Edward Island * Institute of Island Studies

Place of publication

550 University Ave, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, CAN

Rights statement

2012 Institute of Island Studies,University of Prince Edward Island, Canada This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution: No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported Licence.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society

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