16 October | GLASS Faculty Roundtable | Minor archives, meta histories

Professor Dipesh Chakrabarty will lead a GLASS Faculty roundtable discussion on: Minor Archives, meta histories: rethinking peripheries in the age of global assemblages.

Date & Time
16 October 2015
3:00 - 4:45pm


Gravensteen, room 111
Pieterskerkhof 6

Minor archives, meta histories: rethinking peripheries in the age of global assemblages

Since the 1980s, a critical turn away from (Euro)centric approaches involved the pursuit of what might expediently be called a 'minor mode' of writing history and knowledge-making. Riffing off of Deleuze and Guattari's concept of a 'minor literature' (1983, 1986), some notable scholars have, in various ways, invoked the minor as a revolutionary mode of production; in a practical sense, it both labors to cast doubt on dominant narratives and rebuff the marginalized, petrified and 'inferior' status of certain histories and peoples. In other words, the work of the minor mode ultimately seeks “to express another possible community and to forge the means for another consciousness and another sensibility” (Deleuze et al 1983:17).

Although the 'minor mode' is rarely invoked explicitly in historical and anthropological scholarship, its mission resonates with a significant shift in mainstream academic discourse over the past several decades: from critical feminist thought and postcolonial studies to the material and global turns, accounts of history's 'unlikely subjects’ have proliferated as have stunning critiques of major orienting frames such as the nation, European rationalism, imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, and even anthropocentric ontologies. 

This roundtable seeks to explore how we might develop further questions of micro-voices/subjects/archives in relation to old and new hegemonic tropes – of ‘Eurocentric’ histories, or nation-centric histories, or indeed the meta-frame of global histories:

  • Does the minor provide a productive analytical trope in postcolonial historiography? In particular, can we use it to unthink or deterritorialize the relationship of center and periphery that has dominated postcolonial studies to date?

  • How might we imagine post-national historiography in the Global South? How would this project (and other projects foregrounding ‘minor’ conjunctures) impact the ways in which we define and think through our concepts of history, culture, the global, and modern?
  • How do vernacular, ordinary and mobile geographies relate to the minor mode? What potential do these have for articulating a different conceptions of the global?
  • Where do we look we look for the archives of the minor?


Cited Works:
Deleuze, Gilles, Felix Guattari, and Robert Brinkley. 1983. What is a minor literature? Mississippi Review 11(3): 13-33.
Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. 1986. Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Suggested Readings (please email lgi@leiden.edu to request copies):

Chakrabarty, D. 2000. Minority Histories, Subaltern Pasts in Provincializing Europe. Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp.97-116.

Chakrabarty, D. 2002. Subaltern Histories and Post-Enlightenment Rationalism in Habitations of Modernity. Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp.20-37.

Chair and Moderator:
Ethan Mark (LIAS - Japan Studies, Leiden)

Dipesh Chakarabarty (History, Chicago)
Nira Wickramasinghe (LIAS - Modern South Asia, Leiden)
Ksenia Robbe (LUCAS - Literary Studies, Leiden)
Wayne Modest (Director of the Research Center for Material Culture)

Last Modified: 28-09-2015