The Concept of Minority for the Study of Culture

Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles
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Journal Article
Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 2017, 31 (1), pp. 92 - 103
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The title of this special issue and the conference that produced it, Minor Culture, could have been borrowed from many different intellectual traditions. However, if a decisive break must be identified in the meanings attached to ‘minor’, it remains Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (1975, Kafka hereafter). The article therefore begins by examining Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of ‘minor literature’ as an anti-sociological reworking of minor and minority, although as we suggest, the French philosophers’ commentary does not proceed without its own embedded assumptions about social context(s). The article then turns toward those policy-driven sociological traditions that Deleuze and Guattari sought to escape, focusing on the North American sociology of the Chicago School. As part of this discussion, we also reflect on the construction of ‘minorities’ through social narratives about numbers, taking Australian immigration debates as an example. As a third key paradigm in the study of the ‘minor’, the article revisits cultural studies’ own embrace of the Popular as a site for political struggles over the meanings attached to ‘major’ and ‘minor’ social identities. Finally, we consider the range of transformative cultural practices addressed in this Minor Culture special issue, and reflect on the utility of the ‘minor’ in holding together disparate political projects.
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