Andreas Karoutas

Department: Politics
Discipline: Politics
Research Centre/Unit: Centre for Political Thought

Project Summary


My PhD was inspired by Gabriel Tarde's sociological thesis that minorities and minority-born innovation 'overturn' the majority, thus causing social change. I sought to democratize the elitist Tardian thinking, who had in mind primarily privileged elite minorities, by exploring how a similar Tardian process could be instigated by minorities that we typically describe as vulnerable, oppressed, or dominated. I thus turned my attention to critical theories of democracy to describe the contours of a democratic 'overturning' of the majority by such insurgent minorities. Drawing upon Cornelius Castoriadis and his concepts of autonomy and the self-questioning of society, I focus my attention on how insurgent minorities are crucial to activating and preserving democracy -- insofar as they insitgate societal self-questioning and maintain open the horizons of future societal reconfiguration. Through engagement with the works of Ernesto Laclau, Gilles Deleuze, and Jacques Rancière, I offer three accounts of the process of the overturning of the majority by insurgent minorities, and address how their theories can help us describe the democratic contours of the specified process.


Supervisory Team

Dr Andrew Schaap and Dr Alex Prichard. AKA the best supervisors in the whole world.

Wider Research Interests

My research interests are spread between direct engagement with philosophy and political theory, and the wider sociological, anthropological, psychological, and historical (including historiographical) aspects of society, societal interaction, and societal movements. I am still passionate about critical historiography and the critique of nationalism. I also have an interest in (an-)archism and the epistemological justification of 'arkhe', bottom-up politics, structure, post-Marxism and post-structuralism, anti-institutionalism and anti-authoritarian ideology,  the contingency and temporality of any 'permanent' social structure, alternative cosmopolitanism, post-Marxism, and environmentalism.

Other than my primary research interests that I engage with in my doctoral research, I am generally interested in the various cultural factors that shape political life, and the various forces and actors that pull together as well as fragment society. The apparent global upsurge of 'populism', for example, as well as the recent explosion of narratives around post-truth, fake news, and conspiracy theories, have led many to conflate these together. Assumptions that there is a causal relationship between 'populism', conspiracism resulting in the erosion of democracy to me sound inherently problematic: the self-questioning of society emerges in many ways, and it always necessitates a distorting of, and a distortion of epistemic 'constants', and givens. The erosion of truth is not necessarily a threat to democracy - even if the process itself is not always positive, or if it is being co-opted by the alt-right and neo-fascist constellations. I am currently developing a module on Decolonising the University, that focuses on feminist, post-colonial and decolonial approaches to academic education. Owing to a general interest in sci-fi, my new research has also focused on dystopia and post-apocalyptic politics. In the future, I plan to return to the work I engaged in my thesis, and to re-shape it in order to confront the nature of (and the criteria that constitute) democratic actors and the post-democratic crisis that outsider movements generate.

I am interested in supervising students on any of the above subjects.