File spoon-archives/seminar-13.archive/south-asian-women_1995-1996/seminar-13.nov95-mar96, message 44

Date: Sun, 3 Dec 1995 17:50:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: postcolonial-digest V2 #66 (fwd)
To: seminar-13-AT-jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU

took the liberty of fwding Satish's post too - hope you don't mind, Satish?


From: Satish K Kolluri <>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 09:39:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: self-reflexivity and identity (fwd)

Forwarded message:
> From raza Tue Nov 28 16:18:07 1995
> Message-Id: <>
> Subject: self-reflexivity and identity 
> To: kolluri (Satish K Kolluri)
> Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 16:18:06 -0500 (EST)
> From: "Raza A Mir" <>
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> >From kolluri Tue Nov 28 12:18:18 1995
> Message-Id: <>
> Subject: self-reflexivity and identity
> To:
> Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 12:17:56 -0500 (EST)
> From: "Satish K Kolluri" <>
> Cc: raza (Raza A Mir)
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> Debbie Rodan wrote on Nov 21, 1995:
> I am very interested in this question of essentialism and 
> self-reflexivity. Could you say some more about...your link of the 
> request to be self-reflexive and the positionality that the author is 
> dead and identity is supposedly fragmented.
> 	The desire to be post-national on the part of the West gives the 
> notions of identity and essentialism a completely different twist in 
> terms of locating them 'there,'  not 'here.' That is to say, there are 
> good essentialisms and bad essentialisms and good nationalisms and bad 
> nationalisms. Seemingly, a stable identity is available naturally to the 
> West (homogenizing the West works well in this particular context) while the 
> others are consigned to hyphenations, melting pots,and  salad bowls. To 
> talk about the "End of Racism" is, to say the least, premature, and here 
> I am specifically alluding to the constitution of the discourse of 
> multiculturalism and WASP's "natural" right to ethnicize. One cannot not 
> want to miss the link between this "natural right" and the self-sameness 
> of White identity (read West, colonizer, pre-ethnic or post-ethnic, Theory) 
> that sets up the Other (read East, Third World, African-American, 
> Chicana) whose identity is split, fragmented, and contested. Du Bois' 
> 'double consciousness' aside, who announces this fragmentation, this 
> contestation? Is identity always imposed? How does one talk about the 
> assumption of an identity, strategic or not? Given this, what is the 
> relationship between identity and essentialism, if both are to be 
> construed as strategic?
> 	The above questions, no doubt, are part of a larger project but, 
> they do lead me specifically in this context, to the notion of 
> self-reflexivity that is easy to come by within Western epistemic spaces 
> wherein the connection between self-reflexivity and correct politics is 
> "naturally" assumed. In other words, there is no radical collapse of 
> representation. Agency and subjectivity blend together perfectly just as 
> politics and epistemology do.In a (post)colonial sense, the West as Theory 
> evidences the East or Third World as experience in order to ground 
> itself ('I am, therefore you are') and yet at the same time, insidiously 
> enough, produces knowledge (theory) about the impenetrability of the 
> Other. Paradoxically, the very denial of knowledge about the Other
> (characterzed by multiplicity, heterogeneity, and difference) 
> produces knowledge. 
> 	For the newly decolonized nations or 'to be nations,' it is a 
> perpetual catch-up game in terms of identity politics. A radical collapse 
> of representation prevents the  political from coinciding with 
> the epistemological (nationalism as a derivative discourse). Knowledge 
> production is relegated to the status of narrative that lacks an 
> epistemological basis. What I mean to say, is that, for instance, the 
> valorization of tradition (or experience) does not happen on 
> the Other's epistemological terrain. In this sense, the invocation of 
> tradition itself on part of West is an essentialist construction that 
> somehow pits it against knowledge or theory. Given this, the task is to 
> assume an identity wherein the there is no split between subjectivity and 
> agency, an identity that epitomizes resistance, is proactive, refuses the 
> call that identity is no more or is fragmented and simultaneously 
> historicizes the category the "author." I am deeply skeptical of the moves 
> that announce the "death of the author" or the death of the voice just when
> the others are in the process of raising their voices. To reiterate the 
> question I had posed earlier, on whose epistemological turf is 
> self-reflexivity being debated? Is it an intra-mural squabble?
> 	A more urgent task ahead of us would be to prevent the 
> substitution of critique with reflexivity. More important, how do they go 
> hand in hand? 
> 	I hope I have answered your question to your satisfaction. let us 
> keep the debate alive.
> Regards
> Satish Kolluri
> Dept. of Communication
> University of massachusetts, Amherst.

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From: Radhika Gajjala <>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 13:46:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: whose epistemological turf?


your post was useful to me because i am currently (and the currently goes 
on and on and on, but that's beside the point) struggling with these 
notions myself.
While i too am critical of the "death" of the author, etc. i would 
hesitate before dumping the notion of "self-reflexity" which i take to 
mean an exploration of location - the *author's* location. the "death of 
the author" begins to suggest that, since the "author" is "dead", s/he
as a subject with motives and experiences or hir own  is erased.

However, self-reflexivity and/or the exploration of location in relation 
to the various forces of production (social, material, cultural...) 
within the author's life can at least make us aware of the 
constructed-ness of an account (which does not mean that the account is 
wholly "fictitious" ) - that any account produced by any 
scholar is a partial truth.

In relation to this - what do you think of Inderpal Grewal notion of the 
"non-essential subject" and hir "multiple locations" (the last chapter of 
"Scattered Hegemonies" -ed s Kaplan and Grewal)?

i do not think that self-reflexivity *excludes* the possibility of critique.
We do not have to think in terms of *either* self- reflexivity *or* critique.
i think an exploration of the author's own location  facilitates further 
critique. and allows us to ask the question - "what epistemological 
assumptions are implicit in the notion of a certain kind of `critique'?"


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maybe we can try and drag these posts into context in our "seminar" on 
SA  women identity?



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