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In recent years, a growing body of literary and historical scholarship has explored the complex relationship of Western elite culture to the postcolonial societies of the Southern hemisphere. Spivak, a prominent literary theorist based at Columbia University, is widely known for her sophisticated deconstructive approach to questions of feminism, North-South relations, and the politics of subaltern studies. This book is based on a number of her published essays, including the influential 1988 article "Can the Subaltern Speak?" Spivak focuses on the relationship of debates in philosophy, history, and literature to the emergence of a postcolonial problematic. Overall, she seeks to distance herself from mainstream postcolonial literature and to reassert the value of earlier theorists such as Kant and Marx. Readers unfamiliar with recent trends in literary studies may find Spivak's deliberately elusive prose impenetrable. On the other hand, those already invested in the postmodern and postcolonial debates may find her style invigorating. Recommended for university libraries.AKent Worcester, Marymount Manhattan Coll., New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the foremost thinkers in postcolonial theory, looks at the place of her discipline in the academic "culture wars." A Critique of Post-Colonial Reason includes a reworking of her most influential essay, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" which has previously appeared in only one anthology. (Publishers Weekly)
Gayatri Spivak's long-awaited book...sets out to challenge the very fields Spivak has herself been most associated with--postcolonial studies and third world feminism...[A Critique of Postcolonial Reason] is remarkble for the warnings it provides--powerful critiques of diverse positions structure the author's stance--as guardian in the margin. Spivak forcefully interrogates the practices, politics and subterfuges of intellectual formations ranging from nativism, elite poststructuralist theory, metropolitan feminism, cultural Marxism, global hybridism, and "white boys talking postcoloniality." (Yogita Goyal New Formations)
A Critique of Postcolonial Reason is almost above all else self-conscious, self-aware, self-deprecating. In 139 brilliant footnotes to "Culture," Spivak carries on a running engagement with the flotsam and jetsam (what Walter Benjamin called the "detritus" of culture or "Trash of History") of what passes for public life and the attendant information and culture industry in this global thing we live in: ad campaigns by clothing designers, articles and stories from the New York Times or "Good Morning America"...Spivak's tone makes the book a constant pleasure. A mocking smile seems always present, along with sincere engagement with important issues...From the first page of the preface to her footnote almost 400 pages later about the exchange with the World Bank official at the European Parliament, Spivak focuses on the ignorant, arrogant Eurocentric destruction of people and the environment and the enabling practices of culture that make it possible...This is a most important and significant book. (David S. Gross World Literature Today)
Spivak focuses on the relationship of debates in philosophy, history, and literature to the emergence of a postcolonial problematic. Overall, she seeks to distance herself from mainstream postcolonial literature and to reassert the value of earlier theorists such as Kant and Marx...Those already interested in the postmodern and postcolonial debates may find her style invigorating. (Kent Worcester Library Journal)
A founder of postcolonial studies surveys the current state of the field and finds much to criticize. This is vintage Spivak--dazzling, often exasperating, but unfailingly powerful. (Partha Chatterjee, author of The Nation and Its Fragments)
In these pages Gayatri Spivak performs what often seems either impossible or purely gestural--a critique of transnational globalization which manages to be equally attuned to its cultural and economic effects. This book deserves to be read for its modulated defense of Marxism and feminism alone. It will be welcomed as the clearest statement to date of Spivak's own relationship to the postcolonial theory with which she herself--wrongly, as she forcefully argues here--is so often identified. With a brilliance that is uniquely hers, Spivak issues a challenge which will be very hard to avoid to the limits of theory and of academic institutions alike. (Jacqueline Rose, author of States of Fantasy)
Gayatri Spivak tells us that here she charts her progress from colonial discourse studies to transnational cutlural studies. She does so brilliantly. And she does so much more. She constructs this extraordinary progress through an intricate labyrinth, but one with blazing lights in every corner. (Saskia Sassen, author of Globalization and its Discontents)
Gayatri Spivak works with remarkable complexity and skill to evoke the local details of emergent agency in an international frame. Her extraordinary attention to the texts she reads and her ability to track the reach of global power make her one of the unparalleled intellectuals of our time. (Judith Butler, author of The Psychic Life of Power)
Gayatri Spivak's most recent text, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, brings together in a single volume a wide range of her work in postcolonial studies She weaves together these multiple levels of critique brilliantly, presenting a rigorous reading of the discourses of imperialism A Critique of Postcolonial Reason presents a scrupulous discussion of imperialism in European philosophy, literature, history, and culture. (Rachel Riedner American Studies International)
It's sad that someone of Spivak's obvious (too obvious) learning can be coddled by her friends in academia into thinking this book is publishable. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2002
Spivak's latest full length book includes new work on Derrida and deconstruction, culture studies, rhetoric, and history. Read morePublished on Sept. 1 1999
This book is about 400 pages too long. Postcolonialism and Cultural Studies approaches to problems deserve a better advertisement than this costly bit of charlatanry.Published on July 28 1999