دراسات التابع : تفكيك التأريخ / Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography



Find in your Library


All Authors

سپيڤاك, جياتري تشكراڤورتي; Spivak, Gayaytri Chakravorty; محرز, سامية; Mehrez, Samia

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

Publication Date





[In this article Spivak performs a comprehensive, 'affirmative' deconstructive reading of the work done by the Subaltern Studies group as it develops in the three collections of their journal Subaltern Studies, launched in Delhi by the historians of the group since the early eighties. She begins her piece by praising the kind of revisionist historiography in which the members of the group engage. Firstly, it is a historiography that constructs a theory of change not as a series of 'transitions' but rather as a series of 'confrontations' that must be related to histories of domination and exploitation. Secondly, it is a historiography concerned with rewriting the history of India during the colonial period not from the colonial point of view, nor from the point of view of bourgeois nationalism but from the point of view of the insurgent or 'subaltern'. The term subaltern is used by members of the group to designate the largely ignored, but active role of peasants, workers and women in India. Despite this initial praise for the group's contribution, Spivak criticizes their attempt to identify and locate an autonomous and pure subaltern consciousness in isolation from the 'hegemony of the dominant'. However, Spivak at once excuses and problematizes the group's 'cognitive failures' which, she concedes, are 'irreducible'. On the one hand she suggests that to posit a 'pure' subaltern consciousness may be a 'strategic' use of a 'theoretical fiction' that is necessary for bringing colonial and nationalist historiography into crisis. But on the other hand, she recognizes that the group 'essentializing' tendency, as an 'investigating subject' renders them complicitous with the very systems of knowledge they are out to critique.]

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.