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.
Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology, Philosophy
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” is one of the key theoretical texts in the field of postcolonial studies, by one of its most famous figures. It was first published in the journal Wedge in 1985, as “Can the Subaltern Speak?: Speculations on Widow Sacrifice”; reprinted in 1988 as “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Cary Nelson and Larry Grossberg’s edited collection, Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture; and revised by Spivak as part of her “History” chapter in A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present, published in 1999. It has also appeared in essay collections of and on Spivak’s work, and in postcolonial studies readers. This …
Munslow Ong, Jade. "Can the Subaltern Speak?". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 January 2014
[https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=19945, accessed 11 March 2018.]
- Poststructuralism and Deconstruction
- Postcolonial literature - Britain, The Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand
- Postcolonial Literature - American
- Postcolonial Theory and Criticism