Introduction· Alterity Politics:
Toward an Ethics without Lack
Others are anxious to get to know you better.
-Empress of China fortune cookie
These days, it seems that everybody loves "the other." University pro-
fessors and corporate
alike proclaim the importance of diversity;
even Arby's fast-food restaurant reminds us that "Different is Good."
Of course, once one tries to specify what "the other" means within a
particular context (once a specific other or difference is named by a
discourse), a flurry of anxious criticism ensues: for example, in recent
literary and cultural studies, first-wave feminism has been accused of
heterosexism and indifference to race; a certain Marxism is accused
of ignoring gender and the specificity of non-Western cultures when
it defines otherness in terms of economic class; some postcolonial
discourses are chastised for indulging in Eurocentric theorizing rather
than attending to the lived exclusions of diasporic lives; deconstruc-
tive discourses are faulted for ignoring any concrete others, while
Habermasian communicative rationality is charged with anthropo-
morphism. The list inexorably goes on.
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