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Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's original essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" transformed the analysis of colonialism through an eloquent and uncompromising argument that affirmed the contemporary relevance of Marxism while using deconstructionist methods to explore the international division of labor and capitalism's "worlding" of the world. Spivak's essay hones in on the histor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's original essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" transformed the analysis of colonialism through an eloquent and uncompromising argument that affirmed the contemporary relevance of Marxism while using deconstructionist methods to explore the international division of labor and capitalism's "worlding" of the world. Spivak's essay hones in on the historical and ideological factors that obstruct the possibility of being heard for those who inhabit the periphery. It is a probing interrogation of what it means to have political subjectivity, to be able to access the state, and to suffer the burden of difference in a capitalist system that promises equality yet withholds it at every turn. Since its publication, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" has been cited, invoked, imitated, and critiqued. In these phenomenal essays, eight scholars take stock of the effects and response to Spivak's work. They begin by contextualizing the piece within the development of subaltern and postcolonial studies and the quest for human rights. Then, through the lens of Spivak's essay, they rethink historical problems of subalternity, voicing, and death. A final section situates "Can the Subaltern Speak?" within contemporary issues, particularly new international divisions of labor and the politics of silence among indigenous women of Guatemala and Mexico. In an afterword, Spivak herself considers her essay's past interpretations and future incarnations and the questions and histories that remain secreted in the original and revised versions of "Can the Subaltern Speak?"--both of which are reprinted in this book.


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Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's original essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" transformed the analysis of colonialism through an eloquent and uncompromising argument that affirmed the contemporary relevance of Marxism while using deconstructionist methods to explore the international division of labor and capitalism's "worlding" of the world. Spivak's essay hones in on the histor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's original essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" transformed the analysis of colonialism through an eloquent and uncompromising argument that affirmed the contemporary relevance of Marxism while using deconstructionist methods to explore the international division of labor and capitalism's "worlding" of the world. Spivak's essay hones in on the historical and ideological factors that obstruct the possibility of being heard for those who inhabit the periphery. It is a probing interrogation of what it means to have political subjectivity, to be able to access the state, and to suffer the burden of difference in a capitalist system that promises equality yet withholds it at every turn. Since its publication, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" has been cited, invoked, imitated, and critiqued. In these phenomenal essays, eight scholars take stock of the effects and response to Spivak's work. They begin by contextualizing the piece within the development of subaltern and postcolonial studies and the quest for human rights. Then, through the lens of Spivak's essay, they rethink historical problems of subalternity, voicing, and death. A final section situates "Can the Subaltern Speak?" within contemporary issues, particularly new international divisions of labor and the politics of silence among indigenous women of Guatemala and Mexico. In an afterword, Spivak herself considers her essay's past interpretations and future incarnations and the questions and histories that remain secreted in the original and revised versions of "Can the Subaltern Speak?"--both of which are reprinted in this book.

30 review for Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adrik

    Often cited, often referred to in both Postcolonial and Subaltern studies, Spivak poses the now famous question, can the subaltern speak? For anyone wanting to delve into either of these fields this essay is a must as so much writing that came after has been inspired by this text. Despite its convoluted style, the essay´s reflection on the position of women in the developing world continues to be important and also reveals the continuing struggle of intellectuals in the postcolonial field as the Often cited, often referred to in both Postcolonial and Subaltern studies, Spivak poses the now famous question, can the subaltern speak? For anyone wanting to delve into either of these fields this essay is a must as so much writing that came after has been inspired by this text. Despite its convoluted style, the essay´s reflection on the position of women in the developing world continues to be important and also reveals the continuing struggle of intellectuals in the postcolonial field as they often find western based theories inadequate to describe what they see happening in their countries.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    SPIVAK'S PROSE IS MORE OPAQUE THAN A CASTLE WALL. The ideas in this volume are very interesting, but, unless you're a genius, I'd recommend reading this in a class, so that you might be guided through some pretty complex and difficult intellectual waters. SPIVAK'S PROSE IS MORE OPAQUE THAN A CASTLE WALL. The ideas in this volume are very interesting, but, unless you're a genius, I'd recommend reading this in a class, so that you might be guided through some pretty complex and difficult intellectual waters.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Typical, completely unintelligible postcolonial prose.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alina Apine

    Read just the original, quite fascinating, easy to forget, how a process of distanced social construction can take place, creating the subject on which you yourself start to project ideas and conceptions. Is it even possible to study other cultures, without becoming a part of the postcolonial discourse? Her thoughts on, how women from different cultures come into this are interesting, showing how they are pushed out of the discussion all together- their voices are not even there.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Puri Kencana Putri

    It was my first encountered with post-colonialism literatures, when my professor introduced me to Gayatri Spivak's works. Through this book, we can have a profound understanding about the power relation between the dominant one (colonial and its legacy) and the subaltern one, who always being oppressed during the time frame of its perpetual relation. But can the subaltern speak and stand up in order to represent their identity? That is the question. It was my first encountered with post-colonialism literatures, when my professor introduced me to Gayatri Spivak's works. Through this book, we can have a profound understanding about the power relation between the dominant one (colonial and its legacy) and the subaltern one, who always being oppressed during the time frame of its perpetual relation. But can the subaltern speak and stand up in order to represent their identity? That is the question.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt Sautman

    What I love about Rosalind Morris’s (re)presentation of Gayatri Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” is that she situates what can be an incredibly dense text to read through and pairs it with other scholarly work so that Spivak’s key ideas in the text can percolate and further resonate. More importantly, however, Morris fronts the volume, following her introduction, with Spivak’s revised edition of the essay, instead of the more problematic original. (Although having read both versions, they are What I love about Rosalind Morris’s (re)presentation of Gayatri Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” is that she situates what can be an incredibly dense text to read through and pairs it with other scholarly work so that Spivak’s key ideas in the text can percolate and further resonate. More importantly, however, Morris fronts the volume, following her introduction, with Spivak’s revised edition of the essay, instead of the more problematic original. (Although having read both versions, they are much the same except for some omissions in the newer version that originally appears in Critique of Postcolonial Reason and a revised position that the Subaltern can indeed speak in certain circumstances.) I find it fascinating to see how this idea has evolved and how much the revision especially turns to a mode of praxis for addressing the issues associated with the hegemonic appropriating of Subaltern texts.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Drew Edwards

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Can the Subaltern Speak? Is a theoretically dense, but rich text that stands as a fundamental pillar of thought in post-colonial studies. The essay composed just a fraction of the book, complemented by scholarly extrapolations of the concepts within the essay into application throughout history. This idea is essential in sobering the notion of an international democratic ideal and provides a heavy, but liberating concept of bridging these layers of identity into a more honest conversation that v Can the Subaltern Speak? Is a theoretically dense, but rich text that stands as a fundamental pillar of thought in post-colonial studies. The essay composed just a fraction of the book, complemented by scholarly extrapolations of the concepts within the essay into application throughout history. This idea is essential in sobering the notion of an international democratic ideal and provides a heavy, but liberating concept of bridging these layers of identity into a more honest conversation that veers away from the more common Eurocentric, male dominated world of development and post-colonial studies.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Irene Wang

    "Can the Subaltern Speak?" transformed the analysis of colonialism through an eloquent and uncompromising argument that affirmed the contemporary relevance of Marxism while using deconstructionist methods to explore the international division of labor and capitalism's "worlding" of the world. Spivak's essay hones in on the historical and ideological factors that obstruct the possibility of being heard for those who inhabit the periphery. It is a probing interrogation of what it means to have pol "Can the Subaltern Speak?" transformed the analysis of colonialism through an eloquent and uncompromising argument that affirmed the contemporary relevance of Marxism while using deconstructionist methods to explore the international division of labor and capitalism's "worlding" of the world. Spivak's essay hones in on the historical and ideological factors that obstruct the possibility of being heard for those who inhabit the periphery. It is a probing interrogation of what it means to have political subjectivity, to be able to access the state, and to suffer the burden of difference in a capitalist system that promises equality yet withholds it at every turn.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill Brydon

  10. 5 out of 5

    James

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fiona Russell

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jesper Karlsson

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dina

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lane

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marie Louise

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maryam Alsada

  17. 5 out of 5

    Seb

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessy

  19. 4 out of 5

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  20. 4 out of 5

    Pallavi

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Leon

  23. 5 out of 5

    Wuttipol

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark Benedict Lim

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laila Bourha

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    Dean Jorgensen

  27. 5 out of 5

    A

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Kuzel

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sako H

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