The Moorish Wanderer

Course 1 : an introduction to the deterritorialization

Posted in American Minority Voices by Zouhair ABH on January 14, 2009

First course of American Minority Voices seminar.

A very brief introduction of ‘administrative’ ground rules. The course seems to start sur les chapeaux de roues. Very literary, but I don’t mind it. After the usual procedure, Mrs Dumont started some kind of brain-storming, that is, related words and concept to minorities : racial minorities, mainstream, and the like. Quite an unusual way, but it turned interesting when the professor started to read an extract of the newly-elected president of the US –Barack Obama– book ‘The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream‘ about minorities in the US, and the power they are gaining over the WASPs (or at least, that is what I understood)

Our first concept came with an extract of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze a bout minor literature, and specifically, about the most famous of the jewish czech authors of the 1920’s, Franz Kafka. the Kafka example is a way to introduce the deterritorialization concept. A neologism that is ? maybe, or maybe not. I had -and in facts, I still have- difficulties in finding the true meaning of the concept. The main ideas where as follow :

– the minor author does not express their community’s concerns : in facts, the minor author expresses themselves in the dominant language. As intellectuals, as a part of a ‘non-governmental’ elite (as Pareto describes it), they cannot help but express their feelings, beliefs, fears, opinions, in the mainstream language, yet they cannot claim to be part of this same dominant group, because they are inevitably categorized as ‘minority spokesperson’. On the other hand, they feel as they are aliens to their home community : they have another education, their way of thinking differs violently from the one that characterize their community, and sometimes -like the native American writer Sherman Alexie– they are rejected form both sides.

Franz Kafka

– Language, alienation and dominance : Deterritorialization, in that sense, is a situation where the minor author masters the dominant language, but not its codes. Subsequently, they feel as if their knowledge is poor, and paradoxically, this poverty turns into a productive, innovative and inspirational work. They do not master the codes, and therefore they want to break it by making the most of the poor material they got. The body -i.e the language- becomes a spirit on itself. The minority literature is then a mere gathering of individual statements, it is also an uncoordinated outcry of spiritual wound : ‘the impossibility of not writing, the impossibility of writing in German, the impossibility of writing otherwise‘, as in the text.

The minor author is above all a political writer : because of their situation, the minor author cannot writing without a constant reference to the political struggle -violent or not- they witness everyday. Individual concerns are all merged into a big political problem, that Deleuze sees as a symbol of a new solidarity -that is, between minor authors-  It is a literature of minority people’s concern.