Housing the crisis: A minor inquiry into Oakland’s housing crisis

Authors: Matthew Harris*, University of Georgia
Topics: Social Theory, Geographic Theory, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: the minor, housing, crisis, Oakland
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With a critique of positivism as my point of departure, I look to the minor as a mode of inquiry that aims to disrupt the positivist insistence on objectivity, certainty, measurement, objectification, prediction, and control. The minor avenue I pursue here is the politicization of objects: the shift from studying objects as stable entities towards studying the conditions through which they are produced and reproduced. Politicizing objects highlights the excesses that have always existed and the surpluses that are always produced in response to the continuously redrawn boundaries around our objects of knowledge. If crisis is the realization of these excesses and surpluses—these forces that can no longer be ignored—the political and relational dimensions of the minor inform my inquiry into the housing crisis as it unfolds in Oakland, California. Housing the crisis is a metaphor and minor inquiry into the ways in which crisis is contained within objects of knowledge. At times that object is the political, the social, the economic, or the environmental; here, containing the crisis—housing the crisis—is interested in ways of being in the world that exceed positivist ways of knowing the world and how those excesses are contained within the figure of the house.

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