Riya- Can the Subaltern Speak?:Gayathri Spivak

Ashcroft, Bill, Griffiths, Ganeth, Tiffin, Helen. Can the Sublatern Speak- Gayathri Chakravorthy Spivak. ”The Post- Colonial Studies Reader, 2nd Ed. Routledge. London. 2006. Print.

In the essay “Can the subaltern Speak”, Spivak is questioning the credibility of the understanding of the Western of other cultures. She questions the study of subaltern or the ‘other’ without their voice in it. The practise of trying to understand the ‘other’ from a distance is criticised in the first part of the essay. The essay defines Subaltern as a “person without lines of social mobility” (28). When subaltern claims to represent the ‘other’, Spivak categorises ‘representation’ into two where we speak for them through politics or re-present them through arts or philosophy. The concept of subaltern I will be dealing with looks at how history represents the subaltern and how they also conveniently forget to represent some aspects of the history.

The essay states that “both as object of colonialist historiography and as subject of insurgency, the ideological construction of gender keeps the male dominant” (32). The double oppression of female and the forgotten contributions of women in history is another aspect of my research.  To concretise the argument Spivak mentions that “if, in the contest of colonial production, the subaltern has no history and cannot speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow “(32), which is another argument which can be used to back up my research.

The essay looks at only the popular scenarios of women oppression but the forgotten contribution of women in history, which is an outcome of oppression, is not mentioned in the essay.



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