Immigrants, Banlieues, and Dangerous Things: Ideology as an Aesthetic Affair

Abstract : This paper engages with the notion of ideology, bringing together Laclau's theorisation of the specificity of the ideological, andRancì ere's notion of aesthetic regimes. Ideology, I argue, works through what it makes available to the senses and what it makes to make sense. It is in this sense that it is an aesthetic affair. This argument is illustrated with an account of the so-called " securitarian ideology " in France that characterises the repressive policies of the recent governments. The One and the Many One is alright. It is when there are many of them that there are problems (Brice Hortefeux, Former French Minister of the Interior, 6 September 2009). In a rather tragic scene, a party member introduces Hortefeux to a young militant of Arab origin, explaining that he is " like them " : he " eats pork and drinks alcohol ". The minister is surprised: " Ah! That's not it at all, he doesn't fit the prototype at all! " Then he adds: " There always has to be one. One is alright. It is when there are many of them that there are problems. " 1 But should we be surprised? Various government members over the past years, including Presidents of the Republic, have publicly made similar statements. Even so, it was a milestone for a minister condemned for a racial insult to continue to remain in office. Arguably such statements have been influential in the consolidation of the " prototypes " Hortefeux was referring to. My title is inspired by George Lakoff's 1987 book, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. Lakoff chose this intriguing title to expose the workings of the standard chain of inference: from conjunction to categorisation to commonality. His title, in turn, was inspired by Dyirbal, an Australian aboriginal language, which includes women, fire, and dangerous things in the same category—but not because, as the usual view of categorisation suggests, they have common properties. Women and fire are in this same category not because they are both considered dangerous things, but because they fall into one of the four categories that are used to classify the objects of the Dyirbal universe. This category, balan, also includes some fishes, most birds, scorpions and crickets, things connected with water or fire, sun, stars, shields, some spears and some trees—a categorisation as seemingly surreal to the Western
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Mustafa Dikeç. Immigrants, Banlieues, and Dangerous Things: Ideology as an Aesthetic Affair. Antipode, Wiley, 2013, 〈10.1111/j.1467-8330.2012.00999.x〉. 〈hal-01274405〉

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