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GAYATRI SPIVAK AND THE SUBALTERN: THE IRRETRIEVABLE SILENCED VOICE AND THE FUNCTION OF THE POSTCOLONIAL INTELLECTUAL


HAMZA SALIH

PH.D. STUDENT IN CULTURE

LANGUAGE AND SOCIETY RESEARCH LABORATORY

MOHAMED V UNIVERSITY

RABAT – MOROCCO 

Abstract

 

Gayatri Spivak remains undoubtedly a prominent postcolonial theorist, who has attained international fame and eminence. In fact, her writings and fields of interest are diverse, starting from her engagement with the Marxist critique of capitalism, through her critique of imperialism and colonial discourse, to her feminist perspective on deconstruction. Since the discussion of the concept of subalternity is overriding and central to Spivak’s work, my paper endeavors to offer an insightful analysis of such a controversial concept and to problematize the function of the postcolonial intellectual. To attain the afore-mentioned objectives, I shall draw most of my insights from Spivak’s monumental article “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In my paper, I shall first trace back the origin of the concept of subalternity in the theoretical formulations of both Gramsci and Guha. Then, I shall study the way in which Spivak draws most of her arguments from the criticism she directs mainly to Guha’s essentialist premises. I shall then show how she builds upon her arguments to come to her provocative conclusion that the subaltern cannot speak, which I find very significant in her work. One of the central conclusions that I drew from her article is principally related to the functions she assigns to the postcolonial critic. Put simply, the postcolonial intellectual and historian should touch the consciousness of the people instead of merely theorizing about the nature and construction of such an irretrievable consciousness. In Pierre Macherey’s words, “what is important in a work is what it does, not what it says.”journal of english

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2017-04-04T09:06:25+00:00
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