The notion of “Subalternity”

According to the reading I have done on Subaltern Studies, a linking can be made between Subalternity and Postcoloniality in that both intellectual journeys tend to tell and/or write history from below. Like the term “Postcolonial”, the significance of the term “Subaltern” does not have a fixed or consensual definition in academia.
Subatern Studies came out in academic spheres in the 1980s to deconstruct the historiography of colonial history in India and South Asia. The main concerns of the project were to shake the hegemony of knowing in the bourgeoisie class (the elite), and more specifically to revalue the voice of the subaltern in history-making. The Subaltern is no longer an object of knowledge but a subject of knowledge; and subsequently a subject is to tell or write his own perspective of the dynamics of social relations in the history of colonialism. Therefore, a new line of inquiry is to be made up in order to hear what was unheard.
However, the writing or the telling of the history of colonialism, which always implies the dynamics of identity and culture, has sometimes notions of center and periphery, the “us vs. them” rhetoric that ends up reading cultural identity in an essentialist way.
After having read up about subalternity, I have a question that is striding in my mind, a question that goes beyong Spivak’s question: How can the subaltern speak?

About Babacar

I am a graduate student at the Bowling Green State University (Ohio) in American Culture Studies program for a two year Master degree. Am studying the theories of race, multiculturalism and feminism and their intersectionality in the formation of Identity in the racial and postracial America.
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