Conflating perspectives : Derrida and Danticat interrogate the concept of identity

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Meri-Jane Rochelson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Asher Milbauer

Date of Defense



The purpose of this study was to analyze the way in which multicultural studies and theory, two academic areas that traditionally have been at odds, both manifest a distinctly similar stance on the constructedness of identity in Western society and how it affects intercultural relations. Jacques Derrida’s The Other Heading: Reflections on Today’s Europe and Edwidge Danticat’s The Book of the Dead both influence the way being is perceived in society. The first is a political speech intended to open the minds of Europe’s political elite to what is perhaps the root of intercultural straggle in Europe. The second is a short story intended to shed light on the trials of a Haitian-American immigrant family as they come to terms with their homeland’s sociopolitical unrest and try to integrate into a new cultural environment. Together, these texts facilitate a protean examination of the rhetoric of the essential that permeates Western culture, and provide insight into a way of conceiving of being that is both dynamic and prismatic.



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