From the "silent majority" to "identity politics": the majoritarian imaginary and its rhetoric of minority excess

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Zachary Johnson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Danielle Bouchard

Abstract: The purpose of this work is to engage in an analysis of political rhetorical strategies that invoke phrases such as the “silent majority” and “identity politics” in order to understand how these strategies operate logically, how they figure and define the “political” in the context of contemporary American politics, and what effects they have on minoritized subjects and their political labor. In this work, I place these strategies in an historical context of ongoing sociopolitical dominance by white, hetero-normative, and cis-normative ideologies with special attention given to the turn-of-the-century eugenics movement and its rhetorical operations. I engage in an extended analysis of these strategies and their historical and contemporary contexts through a series of close readings of political texts that theorize with, through, and against, including an historical white supremacist text that theorizes a political sphere based on the will of the “majority,” a contemporary monograph that claims “identity politics” poses a threat to the “properly political,” and the Combahee River Collective, a Black feminist manifesto that coined the term “identity politics” and uses it to both engage with and interrogate the “political.” By engaging with these texts, I hope to demonstrate that the visions of the “political” these texts map out are not inconsequential or dismissible as mere “strategy.” To the contrary, they constitute serious theorizations of what the “political” is and thus need to be critically engaged with in order to understand how the “political” is imagined and re-imagined through the deployment and re-deployment of these strategies.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Eugenics, Identity Politics, Majoritarianism, Political Rhetoric, Silent Majority
Rhetoric $x Political aspects $z United States
Identity politics $z United States
Majorities $x Political aspects
Minorities $x Political aspects
Eugenics $x Political aspects

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