Can the Subaltern Speak? Postkolonialität und subalterne Artikulation

Can the Subaltern Speak? Postkolonialität und subalterne Artikulation

by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Der vorliegende Band enthält neben einer Übersetzung der Originalfassung von Spivaks Aufsatz ein Interview mit der Autorin zur Diskussionsgeschichte, eine Nachbemerkung zur 1999 veröffentlichten zweiten Version des Textes sowie eine Einleitung von Hito Steyerl.

  • Language: German
  • Category: Nonfiction
  • Rating: 4.09
  • Pages: 158
  • Publish Date: 2008 by Turia + Kant
  • Isbn10: 3851325060
  • Isbn13: 9783851325065

Read the Book "Can the Subaltern Speak? Postkolonialität und subalterne Artikulation" Online

By using the text The Intellectuals and Power: A Discussion Between Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, as an example, Spivak examines how seemingly benign Western Discourses unwittingly suffer from the same standpoints they apparently criticize. Drawing upon the discussion between Foucault and Deleuze where they theorize about the working class and Maoism, Spivak points out that their conception of Chinese Maoism is an act of Orientalizing, to quote Edward Said it is a West-specific idea of what Chinese Maoism must be like, which ends up to be completely different from what Chinese Maoism was. (Refer to Edward Said's Orientalism) Her charge against Western post-colonialism is that through the heterogenization of diverse cultures into a singular, essentialist nomenclature of oppressed women or Dalits or Africans or labor/working class, postcolonial studies ironically reinscribe, co-opt, and rehearse neo-colonial imperatives of political domination, economic exploitation, and cultural erasure. The Leftist tendency to homogenize and romanticize subalterns (her attack is directed at Ranajit Guha, founder member of Subaltern Studies Group, who appropriated the Gramscian term to highlight the silence of the subalterns in discourse), especially Indian subalterns, who, by their diversity are more complex subjects than Europeans on a number of counts, Spivak says, has created two major issues: (a): A logocentric assumption of cultural solidarity among a heterogenous people (b): A dependence on western intellectuals to speak for the subaltern condition rather than allowing subalterns to speak for themselves While at one point it was novel, radical and of utmost urgency to make visible the unseen as Foucault says, now, contends Spivak, it is time to render vocal the individual, both avoiding any kind of analysis of the subject whether psychological, psychoanalytical or linguistic, and which is, in her own words, that is consistently troublesome. Spivak, in the next section, then turns to Freud who recognized colonialization as a cultural/political discourse whereby the very identity of Whiteness is established by self-proclaimed benevolence on their part, their colonial policies garbed in missionary work. Then, to counter Freuds use of women as a scapegoat as an ideological formation that informs the monolithic image of Third-World Woman, Spivak argues, the process of unlearning has to be initiated, by measuring silences into the object of investigation. Siting the removal of sati or suttee, as the British transcribe it (the immolation of women till the 19th century on her husbands funeral pyre when he died) as not a British practice of protecting women against patriarchy and misogyny, Spivak argues that it was an act of political/colonial consolidation by etching in womens and official historys memories a genial picture of the British as white men who are saving brown women from brown men. While this statement seems almost blasphemous to many women among us who cannot imagine being burnt when our husbands died, Spivaks concern is not with defending brown men and scapegoating white men, but with the exposing of how complex reality is, how fluid it renders discourse owing to diverse ideologies that are deeply incompatible yet generalized by discourse, and how essentialist it would be even on the part of postcolonialism to indulge into simplistic notions of savior and scapegoat. A gross simplification of it is misrepresentation alright, but when opposed in the literal sense in the light of Spivaks argument, the fallacy of generalization becomes all the more clear, because then the roles would be inversed, with white men becoming the scapegoat and the brown men becoming the savior when all the while, women, the original subject-subaltern, have no say in it, and are effectively silenced in the rhetoric.

Spivak examines a conversation between Foucault and Deleuze (MF&GD), in which she says they 'ignore the international division of labour, render 'Asia' transparent and reestablish the legal subject of socialised capital' and treat 'the workers struggle' as a monolithic subject, linked to desire (to destroy power or which destroys power). Such theories grasp both kinds of representation: they note how the world is staged in representation to make 'heroes, paternal proxies, agents of power' appear necessary So, rather than do as Foucalt and Deleuze here and 'reintroduce the individual subject through totalising concepts of power and desire' by loudly refusing to speak for the subaltern, the intellectual should show that the subject can't be undivided, and that their refusal to occupy the subject position is disingenuous because impossible (representation and re-presentation are not the same). Spivak reminds us that Foucault described the redefinition of sanity at the end of the European C18th and marked it as epistemic violence (Madness and Civilization right?) but she suggests that this is part of the same history of Europe that includes the epistemic violence in constructing the colonial subject as Other, noting the British codification of Hindu law and colonial education in India. Spivak replies, on the other side of the international division of labour from the European intellectual (socialised capital) and from 'inside and outside of the circuit of the epistemic violence of imperialist law and education supplementing an earlier economic text, can the subaltern speak?' This is a question that a particular group of intellectuals - the 'Subaltern Studies' group, who acknowledge Foucault's influence - must ask. Spivak looks at Ranajit Guha, attempting to rewrite the history of the development of Indian national consciousness (because it had previously been written under (or by?) the colonised episteme, and is all about the leadership and importance and heroism of British elites and neocolonial all-India elites (I paraphrase flamboyantly)) and what looks like his strategic essentialism on behalf of 'the people' (subaltern) to locate them and their consciousness, and compares this to Marx (she finds 'moments of productive bafflement' in Marx about subjectivity and consciousness). To recap - one one side of the international division of labour is the intellectual, and then Guha's buffer zone, the indigenous bourgeoisie and/or other dominant social groups (who may believe in coalition, who may be consumers, who may speak?) and on the other 'those most separated from any possibility of an alliance among "women, prisoners, conscripted soldiers, hospital patients and homosexuals" this is Foucault's list... In contrast to everyone thinking good old Foucault is so politically right on, everyone hates Derrida, but, have a look at this bit of writing by Derrida on grammatology, which actually helps 'the task of the First World subject of knowledge in our historical moment to resist and critique the 'recognition' of the Third World through 'assimilation', by marking and critiquing European ethnocentrism in the constitution of the Other (Spivak says this isn't an apology for Derrida, helpfully, as I am always tempted to see lit crit as a horse race). Keep doing this: mark the positionality of the investigating subject A little further on *glosses over more stuff I don't really understand* Spivak mentions widow sacrifice in India:The abolition of this rite by the British has been generally understood as a case of 'White men saving brown women from brown men'. Spivak asks if, allowing that the abolition of sati is 'a good thing', an intervention in the poisonous dialectic of white saviours and nativist nostalgia both speaking for the subaltern woman is possible. She finds that 'what the British see as poor victimised women going to the slaughter is in fact an ideological battleground' (I think of Said here: Orientalist thought erases ideology) since its prevalance in Bengal (it was generally unusual, following the scriptural investigation Spivak calls it an 'exceptional signifier of her own desire) is linked to the fact that widows could inherit property (ie pressure from family members) to population control, to communal misogyny. In fact (I love this point), the word sati means good wife, and the word for widow immolation is 'the burning of the sati' so the British made a grammatical error in their naming (like Columbus, she notes, with 'American Indian').

Spivak chooses the "sati" women in India as a subaltern who cannot speak. According to Spivak the increased number of sati woman can be interpreted as a form of resistance against the British colonization. Spivak argues that Satis is an Indian ritual, but according to the Colonizer it's a crime! The colonizers claim that it is the social duty of the "white men" to save the "brown women from brown men." Spivak moves to make fun of Edward Thompson's book "suttee" and his failed attempt to anglicize the word "sati." Spivak asserts that the ideology behind the British failed attempts to stop this practice in India is to justify their imperialism!

Mag sein, daß das einem Denker der Demokratie gut zu Gesicht steht es gibt aber Bereiche des Denkens, gerade was historische, soziale und auch emotionale Bereiche und Entwicklungen betrifft, die sich nicht einfach sagen lassen, sondern nur in komplizierten Denkbewegungen darstellbar sind. Doch stellt sie ihn massiv in Frage, wenn sie ihn zwar gültig findet in dem Sinne, daß in der Dritten Welt genau die Gruppen zu finden sind, die von jedwedem Diskurs durch den Hegemon wie durch die sozialen, die infrastrukturellen und institutionellen Bedingungen ausgeschlossen sind, ihn jedoch weiter ausdifferenziert und spezifisch auf die arme, schwarze Frau anwendet. Anhand des Beispiels des britischen Verbots des Witwen-Opfers der Selbstverbrennung von Frauen bei der Beerdigung ihrer Männer dekonstruiert Spivak den Begriff der Subalternen und weist durch eine literaturwissenschaftliche Lektüre gültiger Wahrheiten Sätze wie: Weiße Männer beschützen braune Frauen vor braunen Männern nach, daß die Bedingungen, die das Subalterne definieren, eine Diskursfolge auch eine Folge eines männlichen, eines weißen, eines eurozentrischen Diskurses - sind. Mag die urbane, emanzipierte, weiße, mitteleuropäische oder amerikanische Frau einen Diskurs über die Metaebene feministischer Diskurse führen, darüber, ob man viral feministisch sein kann oder welche seltsamen Bündnisse es einzugehen gilt, wenn die verstärkten Einflüsse eines patriarchalen islamischen Denkens in unsere Gesellschaften zurückgedrängt werden müssen - der Feminismus einer Subalternen in Spivaks Sinne besteht schlicht darin, sich zunächst einmal selbst als Subjekt zu begreifen. Wenn in den Kasten, von denen Spivak spricht, also einige Frauen bereit waren, ihren Männern in den Tod zu folgen was de facto nur in wenigen Fällen zutraf, während weitaus häufiger Zwang dahinter gestanden haben mag mag das aus europäischer Sicht ein grausames und barbarisches Verbrechen sein, es war jedoch auch ein Moment, der diese Frauen einmalig zum Subjekt machte (sic!). Im Kern aber - also strukturell - bleibt es ein männlicher und europäischer Diskurs, der einer schwarzen Frau das Subjekt-Sein nicht nur einfach nicht erlaubt, sondern in dessen Analyse und Dekonstruktion ergibt, daß die schwarze Frau hier als Subjekt nicht einmal gedacht wird. Spivak sie weist mehrfach im Text darauf hin erlaubt sich einen sehr freien und deshalb durchaus auch befreienden Umgang mit den postmodernen Theorien, wodurch sie gerade dem Denken Derridas ganz neue, über seine innere Grammatik hinausweisende Möglichkeiten entnimmt und ihn wie durchaus von ihm gewünscht in offene kulturelle Diskurse einspeist, in denen dekonstruktives Denken durchaus zu einem Mehr an sozialem, kulturellen und historischen Verständnis führen kann.

Spivak'n metnini anlamak için kitapta atf yaplan tüm düünürleri ve metinleri bilmek gerekiyor zira bazen yarm sayfa bahsettii metnin neye dair olduunu bile açklamyor. Son olarak da, teori ile aksiyonu birletirdii ikinci bölümde Spivak bir closure yapmaktan daha da uzaklayor ve Bhubaneswari vakasna neden eildiini bir çrpda anlatmaya kalkyor, "adaletin hukuki enstrüman olarak bir sekülerlik aray" deyip metinde yeni bir iddia atarak çalakalem bitiriyor. Yine de bu eletirinin sonuna kadar hakl olduunu zannetmiyorum zira Spivak 120 sayfalk metnin yaklak 110 sayfasnda bir hasar tespiti yapyor.

E ainda me perguntou se eu conhecia um artigo chamado "Pode o subalterno ler Spivak?", que era uma crítica ao texto hiperacadêmico de Spivak, que nunca vai chegar nas mãos de um subalterno, quem dirá ser entendido por ele. Não deve, apenas, se colocar degraus acima, bem pasteurizado e de mãos bem lavadas por produzir intelectualmente, olhando tudo com desprezo e descaso, enquanto usam essas minorias para seus prêmios e laureamentos.