Multi-ethnic democracy as an autoimmune practice: The case of international missions in Kosovo

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This article explains how the international project for building multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo undermines itself by effectively opposing the very concept of democracy. Derrida explained this with ‘autoimmunity’, a term which describes the failed attempt of an organism to recognize its own constituent parts as self, leading to an immune response against its own cells and tissues. Unlike Derrida, I provide that the promotion or the building of multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo commits suicide in its insemination because it is intrinsically undemocratic and because it defines the constituting elements of democracy on basis of ethnic lines while discriminating other identity forms such as gender, social, or economic class. First, the article contributes to the critique of ‘liberal interventionism’ and the logic of transposing ‘models of governing’ in third countries; second, it redefines Derrida’s concept of autoimmunity with regard to international projects for democracy building.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-201
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Politics & International Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • autoimmunity
  • Derrida
  • Kosovo
  • multi-ethnic democracy


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