The Politics of Hope and the Other-in-the-World: Thinking Exteriority

Law & Critique January 2013, Forthcoming

Warwick School of Law Research Paper No. 2012/22

20 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2012

See all articles by Jayan Nayar

Jayan Nayar

University of Warwick - School of Law

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Date Written: November 23, 2012


The paper offers a critical interrogation of the politics of hope in relation to suffering in the world. It begins with a critique of the assumptions and aspirations of ‘philosophies of hope’ that assume a Levinasian responsibility for the suffering-Other. Such approaches to thinking hope reveal an underlying coloniality of ontology, of totality/exteriority, which defines Being and Non-Being, presence and absence, in totality. Consistent with past colonial rationalities, the logics of salvation and rescue define, still, these contemporary envisioning of the ‘white man’s burden’ in relation to the suffering Other. A decolonial ontology of Exteriority, of an incommensurable radical Other-Being against Totality, is instead presented. The focus here shifts from the passive suffering-Other that is the object of rescue, to the Radical Other that is the author of encounter. By returning Exteriority (the Radical Other-in-the-World) to theory, and by opening up theory’s locations of enunciation, the implications of responsibility, in thinking hope, become open also to interrogation and vulnerable to unsatisfactory conclusions.

Keywords: The politics of hope, Levinas, Useless Suffering and Responsibility for the Other, Coloniality of Ontology, Totality and Exteriority, Radical Other

Suggested Citation

Nayar, Jayan, The Politics of Hope and the Other-in-the-World: Thinking Exteriority (November 23, 2012). Law & Critique January 2013, Forthcoming; Warwick School of Law Research Paper No. 2012/22. Available at SSRN:

Jayan Nayar (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - School of Law ( email )

Gibbet Hill Road
Coventry CV4 7AL, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
02476 523097 (Phone)
02476 524105 (Fax)


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