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A Critique of Postcolonial Reason

A Critique of Postcolonial Reason

Toward a History of the Vanishing Present

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

ISBN 9780674177642

Publication date: 06/28/1999

Are the “culture wars” over? When did they begin? What is their relationship to gender struggle and the dynamics of class? In her first full treatment of postcolonial studies, a field that she helped define, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the world’s foremost literary theorists, poses these questions from within the postcolonial enclave.

“We cannot merely continue to act out the part of Caliban,” Spivak writes; and her book is an attempt to understand and describe a more responsible role for the postcolonial critic. A Critique of Postcolonial Reason tracks the figure of the “native informant” through various cultural practices—philosophy, history, literature—to suggest that it emerges as the metropolitan hybrid. The book addresses feminists, philosophers, critics, and interventionist intellectuals, as they unite and divide. It ranges from Kant’s analytic of the sublime to child labor in Bangladesh. Throughout, the notion of a Third World interloper as the pure victim of a colonialist oppressor emerges as sharply suspect: the mud we sling at certain seemingly overbearing ancestors such as Marx and Kant may be the very ground we stand on.

A major critical work, Spivak’s book redefines and repositions the postcolonial critic, leading her through transnational cultural studies into considerations of globality.

Praise

  • Gayatri Spivak’s most recent text, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, brings together in a single volume a wide range of her work in postcolonial studies… She weaves together these multiple levels of critique brilliantly, presenting a rigorous reading of the discourses of imperialism… A Critique of Postcolonial Reason presents a scrupulous discussion of imperialism in European philosophy, literature, history, and culture.

    —Rachel Riedner, American Studies International

Author

  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor at Columbia University and a trainer of elementary school teachers in West Bengal.

Book Details

  • 464 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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