A Critique of Postcolonial Reason

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Harvard University Press, Jun 28, 1999 - Philosophy - 449 pages
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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.

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A critique of postcolonial reason: toward a history of the vanishing present

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In recent years, a growing body of literary and historical scholarship has explored the complex relationship of Western elite culture to the postcolonial societies of the Southern hemisphere. Spivak ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Born in Calcutta, Spivak attended the University of Calcutta and Cornell University, where she studied with Paul de Man and completed a Ph.D. in comparative literature (1967). She has since taught at a number of academic institutions worldwide, most recently at Columbia University. Her critical interests are wide-ranging: she has written on literature, film, Marxism, feminism, deconstruction, historiography, psychoanalysis, colonial discourse and postcolonialism, translation, and pedagogy East and West. She argues forcefully that these disciplinary and theoretical categories must each be articulated in ways that do not "interrupt" each other, bringing them to "crisis." Spivak's own work is resistant to any easy categorization. Her first book, Myself I Must Remake: Life and Poetry of W. B. Yeats (1974), did not have the impact of her second publication, the 1976 translation and long foreword to deconstructive philosopher Jacques Derrida's (see Vol. 4) De la grammatologie (Of Grammatology), which established her as a theorist of note. Since then Spivak has concentrated on examining deconstruction and postcolonialism, and its implications for feminist and Marxist theory. She engages not so much the specifics of colonial rule as the forms that neocolonialism currently assumes, both in the intellectual exchanges of the First World academy and in the socioeconomic traffic between the industrialized and developing nations. In the last decade, Spivak has been associated with revisionist, post-Marxist historians who have sought to challenge the elitist presuppositions of South Asian history, whether colonial or nationalist. Her contributions include theoretical essays and translations of the Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi. Most recently, Spivak has published essays on translation and more translations of Mahasweta Devi's stories. She has also given a number of important interviews on political and theoretical issues, many of which have been collected in The Post-Colonial Critic (1990).

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