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Fecundity of the Ethical: Deconstruction, History and the Subaltern in Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author attempts to follow Spivak's tracing of the singularity of the subaltern subject through the force field of historical representation. In the first section of the chapter, the author offers an interpretive overview of Spivak's engagement with Derrida. The second section is devoted to Spivak's setting to work of deconstruction. Nominalism, "an obsession with names that are necessarily misnames", that characterizes deconstruction is essentially impure. The consolidation of the economy of the self and the other in the colonial discourse always requires a temporal schema, which is provided by historicism. The subaltern, for Spivak, is the entry point to the agonistic field of historiographic representations. To trace the singularity is to enter a relation of alterities. Spivak's exemplary tracing of the subaltern speech offers an ethical perspective to the postcolonial historiographic practice which, Spivak would suggest, must persistently undo the finessing of its own graphematic 'body'.

Keywords: ethical perspective; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; nominalism; subaltern



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