Riya- Subaltern Studies: A New Trend in Writing History

Sahoo, Abhijit. Subaltern Studies: A New Trend in Writing History. Odisha Review. Nov 2014. 82-7. http://odisha.gov.in/e-magazine/Orissareview/2014/Nov/engpdf/82-87.pdf. web.


‘Subaltern Studies: A new trend in writing history’ deals with the new perspective through which history is viewed and defines subaltern history as the “history from below”. “History is the recorded struggle of people for ever increasing freedom and for newer higher realisation of the human process” (81).  ‘Subaltern studies’ is a new trend of writing history. The article provides an extensive explanation for subaltern studies and points out its characteristics in relation to rewriting history. This provides a platform for the research since the paper will be focusing on reading the history of Mughal Rule from a subaltern perspective, mostly focusing on ShahJahan.

Later the articles goes on to discuss the importance of subaltern studies in India and mentions the contribution of Dr. Ranjeet Guha in the field of subaltern studies. “Guha tried to write history of subaltern from the subaltern perspective … to notice the kind of role that the majority of the population … played in directing the course of history”(83). The research deals with the Indian history around ShahJahan and the subaltern reading of the history. Guha’s writings on Subaltern in Indian context could provide a better understanding on how to deal with the subaltern reading of Indian history.  Sahoo concluded the article by detailing on the criticism and response to subaltern studies.

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.


Riya- Reading Subaltern Studies

Ludden, David. “Introduction, A Brief History of Subalternity”. Reading Subaltern Studies: Introduction. 1-27. 9 June 2016. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dludden/ReadingSS_INTRO. PDF File.


The Introduction of Reading Subaltern Studies gives an overview of the origin and the history of subalternity. The first part of the introduction focuses on the factors that have contributed to the historical origin of subalternity and the later influence of globalisation, politics and nations on the understanding and defining of the term ‘Subaltern Studies’.

Ludden quotes Peter Gran to distinguish Western and Indian reading of subaltern that “in India, Subaltern Studies is read against liberalism, Marxism, and ‘religious fascism’ whereas in the U.S, its principle novelty is its ability to represent India by being read into ideologies of difference and otherness”.

It also discusses Subaltern Studies as a site for ‘history from below’ and acknowledges the participation of reforming movements in shaping and becoming a platform for the rise of the nation of the Subaltern. Subaltern identity is identified with the theories of class struggle. The article deliberates how the study of Subaltern was influenced and inspired by the research on ‘history from below’ and on insurgency in colonial India.