Rethinking Community through Literature

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Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Inoperative Community
is now one of the most celebrated interventions in rethinking community beyond the traditional substantialist discourses of unity and essence. It challengingly counters contemporary articulations of both communitarianism and liberalism in order to rescue the concept of
community from forms of immanentism (Nancy’s term for totalitarianism) and
absolute individualism. Writing and literature feature quite prominently in
Nancy’s thesis. They are the “voice of interruption” that destabilises the mythi-
cal articulations of community and deconstructs its immanentist figurations.
They are the spaces of sharing, exposure and being-with, which according to
Nancy, bring about the experience of community. This paper is, as such, an
attempt to engage with Nancy’s captivating approach to the concept of commu-
nity and show how writing and literature provide, to some extent, the condition
of possibility for interrupting the metaphysics of subjectivity and opening up an
alternative space of community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99 - 110
Number of pages12
JournalJournal for Cultural Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


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