E-mail message of 25 August 2004 from Peggy Kamuf to invited conference participants

Dear friends and colleagues,

You will have received recently the following communication regarding the postponement of the conference to honor Jacques Derrida’s long association with the University of California/Irvine.  I quote:

Dear Conference Participants,

We regret that due to unforeseen circumstances we must postpone the conference “‘Who?’ or ‘What?’—Jacques Derrida,” scheduled to take place on October 7-9,    2004 at UC Irvine.  The new date will be announced as soon as possible and we hope you will be able to attend.  If you have already made travel plans, we would appreciate your canceling your arrangements until further notice.  [etc.]

            The Organizing Committee
            “‘Who?’ or ‘What?’—Jacques Derrida” [etc.]

You may well have been puzzled by the nature of the “unforeseen circumstances” that had compelled this decision.  If so, then perhaps I can enlighten you somewhat, although still in a very limited manner.  Attached you’ll find the translation of a letter Jacques Derrida sent a few weeks ago to Ralph Cicerone, Chancellor of UCI.  It outlines certain circumstances under which Derrida would refuse to participate in the conference planned in his honor and to which we were each invited to contribute.

Given the announcement by the Committee, it seems reasonable to ask whether or not the conditions Jacques Derrida set on his participation in this conference have indeed been met.  In my own reply to the generators of the above message, I have therefore asked for some amplification concerning the “circumstances” that forced the postponement.  I also made clear that I could not confirm my participation in a rescheduled conference until I knew more about the reasons behind this decision.  I await a response.

I fear, however, that if a response is forthcoming, it will not override the principled and clear objection Jacques Derrida states in his letter to attending a conference—whether held in October or at a later date—under the shadow of an injustice.  I thus anticipate having to withdraw my name from the program.

With all my best regards,