Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Article excerpt

Stephen Morton, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Routledge Critical Thinkers Series (London: Routledge, 2003), xiv +176pp. Paper. £8.95. ISBN 0-4152- 2935-9.

Gayatri Spivak has long been considered to be one of the foremost theorists engaged in the practice of postcolonial criticism. Along with the works of Homi K. Bhabha and Edward Said, Spivak's critical writings have been hugely influential in challenging Eurocentric approaches to Third World subjectivity. In particular, her feminist responses to Western philosophy from Kant to Derrida have radically foregrounded the tendency of both western academia and non-European nationalist political movements to silence the voices of the most oppressed, 'subaltern' members of postcolonial societies - often, if by no means exclusively, women. Encompassing feminist and postcolonial theory, and simultaneously using and critiquing the core writings of Marx and Derrida, Spivak's theory is often provocative and challenging.

Stephen Morton's book, which offers a succinct introduction to Spivak's theory, is a valuable reference work. It clarifies, without over-simplification, the writings of a critic who has responded to comments on her complex and allusive prose style with the monosyllabic axiom, 'We know plain prose cheats' (p. 6). The book outlines six key ideas from Spivak's critical oeuvre, including deconstruction, feminism, Marxism and postcolonialism. Although, as Morton indicates, Spivak's main concern is the representation of Third World women, the relevance of her writings to the analysis of all postcolonial literatures is evident. …

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