File spoon-archives/seminar-13.archive/south-asian-women_1995-1996/seminar-13.nov95-mar96, message 49

Date: Mon, 4 Dec 1995 21:09:26 -0800
Subject: Re: Is "identity"exclusively obtained with birth?
To: seminar-13-AT-jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU

You wrote: 
>I would say that there is more contradiction (in identity production) 
>"confusion." Given our class backgrounds,  how can  we (at the risk of 

>repeating myself), in Gayatri's  words "unlearn our privileges"  and 
>the same time, "strategically essentialize"?  This takes me back to 
her essay 
>titled "Can the subaltern speak" in which the subaltern subject lacks 
a voice 
>and is not able to represent hirself at a political level. Though 
>the essay received its fair share of criticisms, Gayatri's efforts at 
>thinking thru' notions of class, representation, and subalternity have 

>played an important role in opening them up further to critical 
>investigation.  She, I believe, has changed her "position" about 
>the subaltern in one of her more recent essays (don't know where it 
>appeared?) If you haven't had a chance to read "Can the subaltern 
>in Marxism and Interpretation of Cultures," ed. Lawrence Grossberg et 
>al), please do take time to check it out. Another piece you might find 

>useful is an essay "Deconstructing Historiography" that appeared in 
>Spivak's book "In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics." The 
>subaltern group in Calcutta concerns itself with issues you seem to be 

>interested in.

Spivak's article and views are well read and well known.Let me pose 
some questions ....Gayatri treats the case of sub-altern speaking as a 
problematic, well to an extent she is justified , now what is the way 
out . If you dig down more and more into a problematic you would 
unearth more related problems into more or less a problem-system.One 
way to get out of any social-problematic which has been going on 
dynamically (in its own sui-generis mores and rules) is to fix one's 
position from either an ideological stand-point or from a 
methodological view-point .Now this is very arbitrary , I know but the 
enigma of a social-problematic is that there are two broad paradigms of 
delving into it , one .. the paradigm of an urge to get out of it with 
a first -hand solution and them go on developing on the solution brick 
by brick , part by part, solution by solution , the second is the 
paradigm of deeper and deeper observation and analysis . The ideal 
thing would be two have these two paradigm-models and activites go on 
parallel and in tandem , but though the net result may turn out to be 
that or the pool of world-knowledge may have simulataneous input from 
both these paradigmatic-activites yet for one individual or one group 
or one actor ,acting under any of these two paradigms, have never been 
seen , and I am not quite sure if it is possible too.
With this backdrop Garyatri's treatment belongs to the problematic 
stand, whereas Ranajit Guha's treatment(Elements of peasant 
upsurges...the Sub-altern  vol 1) treats exactly with the specifics of 
the communication and dissemination of experiences of the sub-alterns , 
especially during the MOMENTS of history.Sub-alterns do really SPEAK , 
who cares if it is not in the narrative of the so-called 
intellengentia(Gramsci had a different definition of an 'intellectual') 
.Does it really matter or is it a sacrosanct commandment that all the 
classes , all the groups , all the sections should follow the same rule 
of inter-communication or conversations (let alone verbalisation)? Why 
should knowledge flow through COMPOSITIONS only, why not through 
sublime percolation(Joseph Campbell had an interesting alternative) 
collectively which may or may not be expressed through the set pattern 
of language? Well I do not mean to belittle one paradigm , favouring 
the other , but when both these would self-develop themselves, for a 
summary view and to form one's own opinion and stand (which therefore 
could be so many like a n-dimensional variational tensor) one has to 
check out both the developments and decide depending on the context for 
that particular space and time...


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