You are on page 1of 22


Terror and Its Consequences

Columbia University

four models of globalization are currently in circulation. first, that there is nothing new about it: attempts to take in the available world in a system are as old as history. In other words, globalization is a repetition. Second, that globalization as such can be identied with the efforts at global governance signaled by the Bretton Woods Conference, remotely inaugurating a postcolonial and a postnational world. Third, that the entire globe is now in a common culture x, and its signature is urbanism. And nally, that globalization is distinguished from world trade and world systems through the ascendancy of nance capital, helped by the silicon chip and the Fall of the Wall. In other words, that globalization is a rupture. You have coined globalicities to focus on the limitations and implications of theoretically determining the relations of globalization. You want it to stand in the same way that temporalities and historicities stand in relation to conventional time and history. In response to this, the keynote I want to strike is that changes in the subject are neither isotemporal nor isomorphic with institutional change.



G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

But you cant make words mean what you want. Globalicities carries a pun: a sexy way of spelling global cities. Globalization as urbanization seems to me one of the least speculative strands in the thinking of globalization. It is yet another example of assuming the most visible violence to be violence as such, an inability to perceive (or ruse not to perceive) the invisible power lines that make and unmake the visible. We can see cities exploding their spatial outlines and virtualizing into nexuses of telecommunication, or indeed being halted from such easy virtualization. That is part of our everyday; that is the canonical account of globalization. The other scene still requires archaeology, genealogy; and, in Derridas felicitous words, Whatever one does with it, one must begin by listening to the canon.1 In an argument connecting only incidentally to globalization, but quite head-on to globalicities as global cities, Edward Soja has insisted that the motor of history as synoikismos or homes together is urbanization as such.2 Speaking of the Amazon Valley as the rural, he describes its transformation into data of various sorts (pharmaceutical patenting, ecological databasing, and the like) as urbanization. Here, my argument has been, for some time now, that when we think of the virtualization and transformation of space to data, it is not the rural getting urbanized. City and country are both transformed from space to data, in structurally related ways. But today I will sound another keynote. I will ask why Kabulbehind it Gaza, Karachi, Ulan Bator and bien dautres encorecannot emerge as global cities. The traditional Left, here and in Europe, has by and large understood the events of September 11, 2001, as a battle between fundamentalism and democracy. Even Noam Chomsky has suggested that globalization, or economic imperialism, or cultural values, [are] matters that are utterly unfamiliar to bin Laden and his associates and of no concern to them.3 If, on the other hand, we think of the actual actants involved, politicized graduate students (rather unlike Chomskys stereotype), we do not have to withhold from them the bitterness of understanding that, as the stakes in the Great Game shift, and Russia and the United States maneuver to come together over the black gold of the Caspian, bypassing the Taliban, there is no hope that their

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


city will participate (to quote one of the innumerable World Bank Policy and Research Bulletinsthis one entitled Creating Cities That Work in the New Global Economy) in the changes [attendant upon world trade reaching more than $13 trillion in 1998, that] carry the promise of large gains for developing countries, but [only suffer from the] expos[ure] to greater risks promised in the same sentence.4 Why cant Islam be a liberation theology for leftists from the middle-class elite? I hold no brief for liberation theology. I am just trying to imagine something different from the sorry stereotype. The book that Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have co-authored has given us a denitive account of the politics of globalizationfrom imperialism to empire. Within that context, they have declared the emergence of a new pluralized subject of resistance and given it the name multitude, unconnected to national liberation, confronting Empire head-on like the net(work) that brought down Agamemnon. I would like to read the impossibility of locating or grasping such subjects in the destruction of the World Trade Center. I would like to suggest that the irreducible vis--vis (to quote Foucault) of Empire and multitude as a felicitous binary opposition can only be recoded as the infelicitous binary opposition between Empire and Osama bin Laden. Such a recoding, bypassing the sublimity of the event, is an internal necessity, for every rupture is also a repetition. The only discursive arsenal belongs, as usual, to an earlier semiotic eld, even the discourse that produces Empire as a rupture belonging to the truly global. That is the banal way in which every rupture is also a repetition. The case against Osama bin Laden must be constituted as precisely that: a case for capital punishment by international law. The United States says it has evidence, which it has released to its NATO allies but cannot release to the public. Pakistan says it is convinced that there is a case against him. The Taliban says if the United States provided enough evidence against him, they would try him by the Shariat. None of this is the impersonal movement of data, caught in a global network of telecommunication that we recognize as the trademark of our world. We must realize that the discursive resources for the globalized planet are still culled from various older axiomaticshere, the juridico-legal. The law has never worked in its abstractions without the deployment of power. This necessary resistance to law written in it as its own transgression


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

here thematizes itself because power sees itself as absolute. Thus, the invocation of the law is left unanswered. The only possible response of those without power has been, alas, to withhold, to refuse to give in. Even when it is perfectly clear that the question of law is irrelevant, the answer is: we will try him when you produce evidence, by our law. But also, by the law of hospitality, we will not give him up. I hold no brief for the Taliban, and indeed, I understand they are defectingif CNN is to be believedas who wouldnt in the face of the ferocity of the United States? But one must be able to imagine beyond the stereotypes. This (non)exchange would have been possible at a time before electronic missilesalthough they too, as we have seen, are amenable to technical failure and human error. Perhaps the movements of nance capital are so abstract that error can correct itself or constitute itself as felicity. I dont really think so. What we do know is that in the eld of the juridico-legal, the political, the military, the ideological, the pedagogical, and the like, the management of human and technical errortroubleshootingis what constitutes the eld. When we describe globalization as seamless unication of the globe achieved, we describe the dream of globalization as achieved. There are other kinds of ruptures that I will go on to describe. But this constitutive rupture is something that we should keep resolutely in mind as we investigate the impossibility of tracking the loci of labor injustice because the factory has become so thoroughly virtualized and diversied. Or when we hear the spin doctors for globalization, on the Right or on the Left, sometimes hardly distinguishable in their consequences, dazzle us with meganumbers and assure us of transformations in international urban culture, or of transformed subjectivities. Some of us in the humanities used to know, theoretically and practically, that changes in the subject, as distinguished from modes of agency, are neither isotemporal nor isomorphic with institutional change. Indeed, perhaps the fall of the World Trade Center was achieved with such success in detail because it was middle- and low-tech, as Mahmood Mamdani reminded us in New York on 20 September: commercial airplanes and box-cutters, in the service of human fearlessness and singleness of purpose.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


Let us remain on the track of how older ways of doing and thinking are still tangled up with what we think of as the new global. Indeed, the confrontation between the NATO allies can be seen as between two global conjunctures, if you will cast your mind back upon the list of contending views of globalization with which I began. I have no ontological commitment to these globalities as actually existing social formationsreal, isolatable globalicities. Indeed, it is my strong feeling that in our craze for recounting the magicalities of globalicities, we have sacriced theoretical and practical sophistication. I have long held that, insofar as something called culture can be accessible, either inside and/or outside, either to its theorists and/or practitioners, culture is the explanations of culture. As to the etiologies of contending cultural explanations, one can no doubt plot historical narratives, themselves part of the network of explanations; but the search for absolute etiologies is as fascinating and elusive as the search for the origin of language. Please keep this in mind as I speak of global conjunctures: Euro-U.S. globality with its well-documented history, and the anterior globality of Islam, which can, unfortunately, only carry the name of religion and offer itself as explanation by way of the discursive practice of religion. What is noticeable is that the Euro-U.S. globality, which is tacitly offered as the unmarked global as such, with the endless invocations of the transnational subject and satellite dishes in Nepalese villages, is the one that is conjuring with nation-state alliances. It is the other globality, Islamic within quotes, where archaico-residual, global(izing) frontiers on the move are in conict with the idea of the nation-state. As in the case of the Gulf War, it is the case of men one way and the state another. As is my custom, I will end with the question of woman. For now, we must complicate the global in order to get a grip upon the thighsI quote Yeats of this fast-evolving situation. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Amir Abd-ur-Rahman of Afghanistan had tried to think through such explanations between the provisional globality of something called Islam and the urgency for the emergence of a practical nation-state. I do not have access to his autobiography in Farsi, but I have studied it carefully in its English translation, attempting to read, as much as possible, between its lines. Not all of it is by his hand, of


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

course; one is not gullible about the evidentiary strength of autobiography, just as one is aware of the lineaments of the autobiographical under the most objective organization of facts. This characteristic, of devising and charting a course between the existing solidarity of Islam and the consolidation of the frontiers and boundaries of the state loosely established in Afghanistan by Ahmad Shah Durani in 1727, is so pervasive in Abd-urRahmans autobiography that it is hard to isolate a quote or two. In the archives of the old Royal Ministry of External Affairs in Kabul were lodged 194 covenants, given to Abd-ur-Rahman on 17 August 1896 by various groups that made up Afghanistan. Hasan Kakar has included the one given by the Mohammadzay Sardars (lit. headmen), since they were of the amirs own clan (qawm, people related by blood and otherwise, who can stand together, to trade, to ght, to recite their genealogies).5 The Amir named the day Festival of Unanimity. The name names a desire, rather than its accomplishment. Let us remember the constitutive hybridity of that unanimity. The document in Kakar is no singular Declaration of Independence where the performance of the signatures was rused as the constative statement of the existence of the signatories as declarersas declarers specically of a specic gesture, here unanimity, as their independence.6 There were, after all, nearly two hundred such documents. The example of the Mohammadzay was followed not only by other groups [qwams] throughout the country but also by Hindus, artisans, businessmen, maldars (nomads [more specically herdsmen, roving proprietors]), soldiers, civil and military ofcials. Let us see in this covenant the nonachievement of a shift from a system of responsibilities to a system of rights, although we do so in the same mode of approximation that we are deciphering here. (To call it a shift from feudalism to the possibility of statehood seems too evolutionist. I am trying to see the glass half-full.) The nonachievement is at least partially effaced in the use of the same English word covenant for tahrir and taqrir in the opening sentence, and ahd-nameh in the description of the le category in the archives. The rst couple signals a proclamationa writing and a recitingthat the true denition of our birth-placing has changed because Truth has selected our qawm-leader as king of Afghanistan; in other words, the

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


qawm-leaders true description has become King of Afghanistan. This change from a previous state of truth is translated into a founding social contact by an archivized collectivity. The temporization of the change thus goes unnoticed in the English. That it has not been completely effacedas it would be in the colonial caseis indicated by the note left by Kakar, a modern Afghan who sought validation at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University, even as his text was being translated into Russian. In my fancy, this festering of the residual under the scab of the emergent is disclosed in the furtiveness of the gaze of the spectators before the European photographer at the execution of the regicide-by-proxy, Najibullah, the last Communist president of Afghanistan, as he was hanged by the Taliban. (The real king, no longer a haqdar but a charming, ineffectual, French-educated Afghan gentleman, whose descendant is now being cited by the revolutionary women of Afghanistan, had of course been unkinged by history.) We are born into a para-individual structural responsibility. Indeed, the word responsibility here is an approximationeven a catachresis. For this structural positioning can also be approximately translated as birthright. Whether it is right or responsibility, it is the truth of my being: in that not quite English sense, my haq. The word that is translated God in the second lines of paragraphs 1 and 2, our right in the next to the last sentence of paragraph 1, and real as in real king and real promise of the day in paragraph 6 is, equally, haq. Thus, what in the English is being staged as the emergence of a (God-given) right is, to put it altogether approximatively, a change in our profane truth because of a move of sacred truth in lling the structural place of the obedience-commander (moqtada, tr. leader) of sacred and profane management (din wa dawlat, tr. religion and state) by the person of our qawm who is to be followed (matbu). The true [haq] king and the true [haq] promise of the last day are, of course as has been mentioned in Holy Writ. That we are dealing with the culture of Islam herewhich does indeed keep din and dunya, sacred and profane, church and state, resolutely together by divine decree, associated in the only use of the word Islam in the Koranis effaced by the translation, perhaps in its zeal to record the emergence of the possibility of modernity. This is


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

most evident in the translations rendering of the fourth vow, where the proclaimers speak and write as mamardomwe the people. We the people swear to cultivate and not to disregard our kings gathering up and using the reins of our religion according to the truth [haq] of God and his prophet. This becomes: we swear not to dispute the right of the religion and to strengthen our religious arrangements of God and Prophet. It is a shift in social order: from clan-leadership (primus inter pares) to authority. The matbu has become a moqtador. To translate both as sovereign effaces the shift. The shift was practically denied by Aman-Ullah, with disastrous consequences. And indeed, the unconsummated shift to a declaration of new rights is actually the declaration of an expansion: a change in the nature and order of, approximately, obedience. By the structural truth of belonging to the qawm, we were responsible for the mtaberat of this matbu (tr. following and sovereignthe latter clearly in excess, since follower and leader interdene through the root tabe here). Now, however, with the move made by sacred Truth, the other qawms of Afghanistan are also of his following (tabe, tr. subjects, somewhat incorrectly because this following precisely does not entail a king). Therefore our haq (right-responsibility-truth) has moved into the etaat that is a part of mtaberat (an entailment, a metonymic rather than semantic/semiotic relationship), to the extent that, by virtue of our qarabat (relationship by blood and standing) of clanship, the other qawms owe us mtaberat. It is not a shift in the sense of following, as the English translation suggests. It is a shift in social order: from clan-leadership (primus inter pares) to authority. The matbu has become a moqtador. To translate both as sovereign occludes the shift within the same discursive formation, which could, of course, have no future. This is not unimportant, since a real shift in meaning, what the translation suggests, might have involved the episteme. Citizenship, says Balibar, is indissolubly linked to the nation-state. When Farsi creates a word for citizens (tabeyat) from following as tabe, and Moin, the big Farsi-to-Farsi dictionary, gives as the last denition of Millat the word translated as nation in the last linethis very word tabeyat (the rst two being the 1aw [Shariyat] and people who follow the law respectively), the indissoluble link is displaced to another narrative structure.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


I resist the temptation of commenting on the play of sacred and profane time in the document. A word on gendering. I have elsewhere compared the frenzy of the soldier for his country to the gendering that can support sati or widow suicide in India.7 The sardars prove my point by having to designate their duty not to be unfaithful to the legitimate king in the feminine (lazemeh). The king-in-his-court has the same sort of relationship to his followers as men to women, having the latters honor (namus) in their safekeeping as their right-responsibility. (If indeed Farsi namus comes from Greek nomos, how much of the polymorphous aura of that word traveled in that derivation? I cannot know.) In this, they are haqdars (truth-keepers, clumsily translated acting in accordance with the heavenly dispensation) of an attribute (approximately) that women can lose, but men have as a ground for shame (rosva). Since reinventing the tradition as historiography will keep womens haq still xed as subject-separation from the losable object, always dened as an indeterminate yet dening predication of the tactile and fungible body, women must train for a resistant modernity, elsewhere. Thus the gendered gift of writing, however private the space of womens learning in theocracy, applies in this theater as well. The actants of September 11 can thus be seen as casualties of a Game that consolidated, rather than participated in, the narrative of conquest/ colonialism/postcoloniality/globalization, which in its turn served to consolidate the emergence of the Foucauldian man as object of knowledge. This narrative also leads to Development as the history of the present modernity virtualizing into postmodernity. But Afghanistan stalls shortcircuited in a buffer zone where the masters, masquerading (I refer to the many photographs of white men in Afghan dress in Peter Hopkirks The Great Game), did not permit the shadow play of native mimicry fully to run its course.8 The detritus of the Bolshevik experiment, coded into the Russian part of the Game, reached it too late and was quickly recoded into the order of the Cold War, a horrible misnomer in the periphery. This is the scandal of the enabling violation of imperialism. There is no radical anticolonial hybrid space in the metropolis for the public sphere. Could Abd-ur-Rahman have consolidated such a nation-state, negotiating between Islam and a communality of religions and ways of life (inter-


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

changeable at this time), accessing the larger dimensions of right/responsibility (if we can catch the nuance in English) covered or uncovered by alhaq? Various kinds of empirical reasons can be advanced for this. First off, the Great Game. Afghanistan could not be a peaceful independent state a wedge between the Russian and British empires. Secondly, in order for this impossible peace to be possible, the head of state had to be a superb strategist, a man of vision who was personally seless and able to bear hardship another Abd-ur-Rahman, in short. But Habibulla, Abd-ur-Rahmans son, was a mean, petulant man, a pawn in the hands of his elder wife. The world-historical reason, to use an old-fashioned phrasesystemic, in other words, rather than empiricalmay be that Afghanistan, the named in-between space between great waves of colonial consolidation, did not have enough congealed synoikismos to establish the kind of social-contract tradition out of which the narrative of modernity grows. Here, Afghanistan can be contrasted to Iran, Turkey, China, Japan. Could Abd-ur-Rahman have given woman an equal share in modernity? Among the guests he invited was a female doctor from New England. It is at least possible to imagine that women might have been inserted into the class-differentiated struggle toward justice that the (capitalist) modern opens. I will pick this up in a bit. Let us go back to the representations of the confrontation. I want at once to say that 9/11, as it is being called now, is not about religion. There is no mourning without imagining the transcendental, and no execution without it either. But that is another matter. There was of course a millennial confrontation, as soon as Islam emerged out of its tribality, of which I, as a Europeanist, know the European side rather more. George W. Bush can tap the Chanson de Roland. Was it ever thus? I cannot know. Culture is its own explanations. This is not the impersonal globalization of trade into capital-formation producing as much as managing its crisis by absolute state-colonyimperialism-empire. It is rather the ideology of thinking oneself the proper shadow of the transcendentalhence global. Thomas Aquinas wrenching Aristotle away from Averres at the University of Paris in the thirteenth century is an example of this. The Internet gives the semblance of access, speed, momentaneity. This produced a sense of collectivity.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


Was this imaginary confrontation present and communicated among the young men who executed the attack, and who lie, unremembered, among the aggressively remembered 2,749? No doubt. Although common sense would tell us that, once embarked upon the plan, it was the dream itself that enchanted them, and the millennial confrontational imaginary became the deepest of deep background. Many of you have heard of the article Temple Desecration in PreModern India by Richard Eaton, recently published in Frontline. I am going to quote a bit from it; but rst, I want to mention a tiny but important detail that Sayad Mujtaba Ali records in his unpublished writings: that for centuries, the Balkhi Afghans came to India to learn Farsi rather than go to Iran. Thus, even if we want to accept Chomskys dismissal (they knew nothing of globalization), we can cite a cultural imaginary. In the Indian context, Eaton writes of the sweeping away of . . . prior political authority, and continues that
[w]hen such authority was vested in a ruler whose own legitimacy was associated with a royal temple . . . that temple was normally looted, redened, or destroyed, any of which would have had the effect of detaching a defeated [king] from the most prominent manifestation of his former legitimacy. Temples that were not so identied but abandoned by their royal patrons and thereby rendered politically irrelevant, were normally left unharmed.

It would be wrong, Eaton continues,

to explain this phenomenon by appealing to an essentialized theology of iconoclas felt to be intrinsic to the Islamic religion. . . . [A]ttacks on images patronized by enemy kings had been, from about the sixth century A.D. on, thoroughly integrated into Indian political behavior. . . . In short, from about the sixth century on, images and temples associated with dynastic authority were considered politically vulnerable.9

Remember, I am what Mahmood Mamdani calls a poststructuralist. I am not speaking of intended rational choice. Im speaking of a cultural


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

imaginary producing reason, somewhat like the repeated marching-band arrangement of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and the lavish use of African-Americans in the preamble to the declaration of this altogether catachrestic war. I wish I had the time to do a riff on the notion of dynasty displaced. I will do no more now than represent the confrontation of last month as the destruction of a templeworld trade and military powerwith which a state is associated. It may not be a referential message about the inequity of an ideology of trade and arms at all. The New York Times has taken pride in printing a manual that recommends acts of Islamic piety for followers of bin Ladens core. Even that may amount to little more than saying a couple of paternosters before taking the heroic plunge. And that was indeed a confrontation; we cannot guarantee that it took place exactly like this, but we must learn to imagine these actants without the all-encompassing word terror. That was indeed a confrontation between oneself and oneself: the extreme end of autoeroticism, killing oneself as other. And in the process killing others. The scary thing is that the destruction of the royal temple became so transcendental a task that mere human lives became as nothing. This is the power of a training of the imagination where the transcendental becomes self-evident. This is the moment one cannot, in principle, imaginebut no use covering that inability with that word again. We have no idea if these men had killed before; they dont seem different from foreign students anywhere. We hear from those phone calls from the planes that one of them cut a passengers throat. It is a horrible detail. Was it to bring the aura of death into this licensed lunacy, not merely to think it and have it happen, but pretend to have control over that peu profond ruisseau calomni la mort? Whatever it was, this act of global confrontation was neither resistance nor multitudinous. It cannot be punished; the doers gave themselves the death penalty. And it cannot be condoned as merely a legitimate result of bad U.S. policy abroad. Such a gesture matches the media overkill to mourn the dead with every possible sentimentality, and thus attempt to contain the sublimity of Ground Zero. Like many of you, I saw the second plane hit the second tower live (if that is the word) on the morning of 11 September. That enclosed object, moving across a sunny sky quickly, with no special effects,

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


and hitting the tower and bursting into thick re, is beyond Atebeyond the limit that human life can only briey cross.10 For its unremarkable progress contained a collection of heterogeneous personal terror, connecting so desperately to transcendentality, that cannot be grasped. I am a pacist; I cannot support violence rationally. But we must acknowledge the sublimity of terror, as in the inadequate name of a human affect beyond affect, rather than the catchall name for any act of violence not authorized by the state. In the face of the many irresponsible criticisms that my position has received, I will repeat: unless there is this imaginative reachwithout condonement, of coursethere is no chance of peace. You cannot wall the world to make the EuroUnited States and its allies a gated community. Indeed, bombing Afghanistan in search of the most wanted is asymptotic with September 11. Compare the silent men, consumed in the still-burning subterranean res of Ground Zero with their incidental victims, comrades in death, with the very vocal, fresh-faced women shown by CNN at the helm of a U.S. aircraft carrier. One of them, unnervingly young, said to the viewers: If I can drive an aircraft carrier, I can drive any truck. This was in response to the most bizarre example of single-issue feminist patter that it has been my good fortune to hear from the mouth of a male CNN correspondent: No one will be able to make sexist jokes about women drivers any more. Single-issue feminism. It is time now to turn to the use of women in this war. What would the women of RAWA (the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), vocal against mens violence toward women and condemning the so-called war, say to those well-scrubbed American soldierwomen on the carrier of death? I leave that question open and turn to the women of RAWA, who are indeed altogether connected to the dominant version of globalization. They are connected to the nongovernmental-organization circuit, to the feminist dominant of the international civil society. Their emails come from the IWUTC (International Womens Tribune Centre) and the Womens Caucus for Gender and Justice. To repeat, the main argument of this paper is an old Foucauldian one: that changes in the subject are neither isomorphic nor isotemporal with


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

institutional change. It is only mental habits of certain classes, professions, nations that have so far changed under that globalization that is seen as a rupture. Heres an anecdote from Tarun Tejpal, CEO of, to prove my point. (Tehelka was a high-level corruption scandal in the government of India that broke on the Internet. Heres the story:)
[In a cameramans village] in the crevices of eastern U.P. [Uttar Pradesh], the denizens had no understanding of the medium the expos had taken place in. They had seen it on TV; theyd read it up in the papers; but they knew there was a new kind of entity that was responsible for the story. And they were clueless about it, clueless about the .com and the world wide web. There was absolutely nothing in their experience or their imagination that could help them make any sense of a website on the internet. So they had conjured up a construct. Tehelka, for them, was a device in which subka bhrashtachar nanga ho jaata hai. A kind of x-ray machine that exposed naked everyones corruption.11

Tejpal is wrong, of course. This is evidence of an active imagination, and a bizarre complement to the promise of justice on the level playing elds of an economically restructured globe! Because of this conviction of the dcalage between institution and subject, I do not think the international civil society, the fellowship of women, has constituted a new legal subject. I think a new possibility for public litigation has opened up, and that is all for the good. I have written elsewhere about the limits of such litigation, and at the very end of this paper I will strike the same note. For now, let me suggest that Polly Toynbees voice, as she scolds the NATO states for not being stern enough, comes from this civil-society terrainwar as a social movementin her recent essay, Behind the Burka, in the Guardian. Her essay is built on a clear dichotomy: feminism vs. Islam. This position is generally countered by two kinds of argument: (a) this is not what true Islam is really like; and (b) it is a profound injustice when incidents of sexual violence in the West are frequently thought to reect the behavior of a few deviantsrather than as part of our culture. In contrast, incidents of violence

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


in the Third World or immigrant communities are thought to characterize the cultures of entire nations.12 These two positions can be collapsed into one. George W. Bushs spin doctors have told him to take this line in his terrible frenzy of destruction: How Islamic radicals are hijacking one of the worlds great religions, reads the cover of a recent U.S. News and World Report.13 Predictably, Toynbee takes a feminist line against this position:
No letters please from British women who have taken the veil and claim its liberating. It is their right in a tolerant society to wear anything including rubber fetishes. . . . The pens sharpenIslamophobia! No such thing. Primitive Middle Eastern religions (and most others) are much the same Islam, Christianity and Judaism all dene themselves through disgust for womens bodies.

And so on. Her counsel therefore is to take sides and support our sisters, especially RAWA, and continue with the war uninchingly. The war leaders are coy about this mighty cultural war of the worlds that is fought out over womens bodies, she writes. We must whack the Afghans out of the map, not because they have dared to strike at America, but because they are cruel and unjust to womenas far as Polly Toynbee is concerned, forever. And, in the urgency of the decision to right wrongs, RAWA is right to say a plague on all three of your houses: Taliban, Northern Alliance, George Bush. And Osama is an ex-CIA bad guy. Were sorry for the American people, but just let the Afghan people alone. I submit that because there are sex-gender systems in operation everywhere, women are used as an excuse for violence. I should add here that the use of the word gender is not marked by cultural difference as class mobility. Sex-gender systems exist all over. To call it a sex-gender system is a privilege of the few. The solution is not to throw the words away, but for the ones who supposedly use the words for the worlds good to learn how to let go of the word as an origin that can only produce more or less faithful translations as the languages move further and further away from English. Let us rather learn to learn from the resistance to such analysis inbuilt in the gendered subaltern. I will come back to this. That is the long haul: a process of relearn-


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

ing human equality that goes beyond the word gender, if anything can do so. The eld of decision loses its horizon here. For the question is no longer who decides, but who dictates what the choices should be, out of what axiomatics? I think our occasional obsession with nding reference everywhere and thus delegitimizing activist approaches of a certain sort mistakes agency for subjectship. Polly Toynbee and RAWA are used by CNN to show, over and over again, the spectacle of the execution of women in a soccer stadium. And the day after the destruction of the World Trade Center, the New York Times wrote of Bill Clinton:
After a crucial moment in 1996, days after the Taliban overran Kabul in a display of brutality, the Clinton administration decided to seek friendly ties with the Islamic movement. The plan was abandoned after the Taliban began oppressing women, but American diplomats continued to say until the bin Laden terror attacks became a focus of American policy that the Taliban might be the best government Afghanistan could hope for after a generation of conict.14

The lines are overdetermined here. Single-issue feminisms, pro or contra gender, will not work. And single-issue nationalism (dont speak against Afghanistan when the enemy is destroying us) should clearly not work. There, in the eld of immediate practice, we hear the U.S. president and the popular media intone the politically correct messages that were seriously offered by Leila Ahmed, Ayesha Jalal, Fatima Mernissi, Leti Volpp, and countless others in a previous dispensation: Islam is great; these terrorists are deviants. Not only do they hate us, but they hate their own women. A justication for the destruction of lives, a cruel vindication of Raymond Williamss insight that the dominant incessantly appropriates the emergent, and thus renders it as merely alternative, robbing it of its oppositional force.15 And since one characteristic of the oppositional emergent is to want to change the dominant, this incessant appropriation is itself at least ambiguous, I have already indicated in my discussion of the need for the emergence of womens resistant modernity in a space discontinuous with Abd-ur Rahmans covenants.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


Today, we have to take a step forward from the late nineteenth century, from failed imperialism to a pact with empire, and ask: Who is the emergent here? And we will see, every time, the narrative of class mobility. I will not repeat here the story how, as capital clears its path, it must initiate an abstract social productivity that creates not only a working class but also a middle class that gives the backbone to a new world. It is the emergence of this middle class that creates the possibility for the kind of feminist struggle that gives us a RAWA. And this middle class, the agent of human rights all over the world, is altogether distanced from the subaltern classes in their own culture, epistemically. What happens on the other side of the development of capitalism? As the society is subalternized under the social-Darwinist assumption that to be tand thus to surviveis to have the skills for capitalism, it begins to stagnate. And the biggest stagnation is in the area of gendering, as understood by way of the biological male-female divide. We have already seen that in Afghanistan, the story of the social productivity of capitalon the way to globalization from above or below could not begin. But ideological class differentiation, the phrase without the content, was already at work. Here is an eyewitness account of Aman-Ullahs ideological separation from his people. I quote Mujtaba Ali, commenting on the Islamization of the issue of women by the mullahs in 1929:
The Mullahs said, didntcha see with your own eyes that Aman-Ullah sent bout ve score Kabuli girls as offering to Mustafa Kamal; when they spent a night in Jalalabad, didntcha see, they went up and down from automobiles in the marketplace like shameless uncovered women? It is true that many Shinwari Khugiani had come to Jalalabad on that market day and had seen unveiled Kabuli women there. And it is even more true that, Ghazi Mustafa Kamal Pasha had never received a good conduct prize from Afghan Mullahs. Apparently a fool still had said, that the girls were going to Turkey to study medicine. Apparently the Shinwaris roared with laughter at thisLady doctors! Who has ever heard of such a thing! Why not just say the girls are going to Turkey to grow a mustache!16


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

The author brings up a class point: Who then would have pointed it out that Shinwari women worked in eld and barn unveiled, who will reason that, if the old grandmother is better than men at putting a turmeric poultice on a wound, or setting a leech on the forehead, then why should Kabuli girls not become doctors? But this is useless dispute, fruitless discussion. Aman-Ullah calls on the long neglected, and scorned, ancient traditionalist old menthey said that they had nothing to do for the last ten years, and so their connections with the Afghan tribes had now been severed. The king whom the RAWA call on today lives in Italy because, at this stage, Aman-Ullah ed for his life. In Afghanistan, another solution was devised through the connection with the alliance with the Soviet Union, which is always referred to as the Soviet Occupation in the United States. It should be mentioned that there were plenty of Soviets in King Aman-Ullahs service. But the attempt at womens liberation was so programmatic that in the dichotomy between the subaltern and the new middle class, a political use of religion could fester. This predates well-known U.S. support of the so-called Mujahedin, or freedom ghters. Remember Gregory Massels argument: in the Soviet sphere of inuence in Central and Southwest Asia, the surrogate proletariat is women. The roots of RAWA are there. This is a narrative of the use of women that is deected by the current dichotomy of good-Islam essentialism against badIslam fundamentalism. And that is the dichotomy between feminist dominant and the gendered subaltern, which one can work to go beyond. It is not a place we claim for ourselves. A unilateral state terror, declaring an undeclarable war so that Article 5 of NATO can operate, has obliterated the possibility for that work. But only in the short run. The class apartheid between RAWA in exile, intimate with the royal family in Italy, and the gendered subaltern will continue beyond the current wave of violence. In that certitude I offer the following formulaic paragraph: Subordinate cultural systems are creative in the invention of ritual in order to keep a certain hierarchical order functioning. With the help of the children and the community, the trainer must imagine the task of recoding the ritual-to-order habits of the earlier system with the ritual-to-order habits

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


of parliamentary democracy, with a teaching corps whose idea of education is unfortunately produced by a terrible system. One learns active ritual as one learns manners. The best example for the readership of this journal might be the wild anthropology of the adult metropolitan migrant, learning a dominant culture on the run, giving as little away as possible. The difference here is that we learn from the vulnerable archaic (Raymond Williamss word captures the predicament better than the anthropological primitive), but also without giving much away. The point is to realize that democracy also has its ritualsexaggerated or made visible, for example, when in our metropolitan life we seek to make politically correct manners natural, a matter of reex. This habitof recoding ritual (always, of course, in the interest of uncoercive rearrangement of desires) for training other practitioners, rather than for production of knowledge about knowledge has to be learned by the teacher as a reex. The general culture of Euro-U.S. capitalism in globalization and economic restructuring has conspicuously destroyed the possibility of capital being redistributive and socially productive in a broad-based way. Within this context, September 11 has had a deplorably palliative effect. Children are sometimes being accessed into hatred. I quote a particularly prurient example, modeled on Dr. Seusss How the Grinch Stole Christmas:
Every U down in Uville liked U.S. a lot, But the Binch, who lived Far East of Uville, did not. The Binch hated U.S.! the whole U.S. way! Now dont ask me why, for nobody can say, It could be his turban was screwed on too tight, Or the sun from the desert had beaten too bright But I think that the most likely reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.17

However utopian it might seem, it now appears to me that the only way to make the sweeping changes called for so that the subaltern can turn Empire around, again and again, is for those who teach in the humanities to take seriously the necessary but impossible task to construct a collectivity


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

among the dispensers of bounty, as well as the victims of oppression.18 Learning from the subaltern is, paradoxically, through teaching. In practical terms, working across the class-culture difference (which tends to refract efforts), trying to learn from children, and from the behavior of classinferiors, the teacher learns to recognize not just a benevolently coerced assent but also an unexpected response. For such an education, speed, quantity of information, and number of students reached are not exclusive virtues. In other words, there is no call to celebrate the formal magic of globalization upon this terrain. Those virtues are inefcient for education in the responsibilities in the humanitiesnot so much a sense of being responsible for, but of being responsible to, before will. Institutionally, the humanities, like all disciplines, must be subject to a calculus. It is how we earn our living. But where living has a larger meaning, the humanities are without guarantees. That is my contribution to the thinking of globalicity, then. Let it contain globalization, so that in it we can locate globalizations excess. Let it contain the strategic exclusions of globalization, so that globalization can continue to be represented as only repetition, or as only rupture, and produce explanations in its explaining machinewhile you devise ways of attending to the excess, the exclusion, and the remains of globalization, always in the mode of to come.

This paper was rst presented in mid-October 2001 at the Globalicities Conference held at Michigan State University. I have made no attempt to update it. 1. Jacques Derrida, Resistances of Psychoanalysis, trans. Peggy Kamuf et al. (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1998), 74; translation modied. 2. Edward Soja, Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2000), 1218. 3. Noam Chomsky, The Theatre of Good and Evil, available online at http://www.zmag .org/chomskygsf.htm. 4. Creating Cities that Work in the New Global Economy, World Bank Policy and

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


Research Bulletin 10, no. 4 (OctoberDecember 1999): 1. 5. Hasan Kakar, Afghanistan: A Study in Internal Political Developments, 18801896 (Kabul: University of Kabul Press, 1971), 29193. All the quotations are from these pages. I am grateful to Hauman Sarshar for walking me through the text, and to Hamid Dabashi for enriching my reading with etymological advice. 6. For the irreducible performative-constative ruse see, as always, Derrida, Declarations of Independence, trans. Tom Keenan and Tom Pepper, New Political Science 15 (summer 1986): 715. 7. Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 29697. 8. Most modern Afro-Asia is free, and the overwhelming majority of these nations had been overseas colonies of European nations. Many of their problems, therefore, have been inherited as legacies of empire. . . . An important exception to the above processes is Afghanistan, which, although never actually a colony of an European power, did nd itself an unwilling and unwitting pawn in the nineteenth century power struggles between Czarist Russia and Victorian England (Louis Dupree, Foreword, in Hasan Kakar, Afghanistan: A Study in Internal Political Developments, 18801896, 1). At this point, Dupree could simply write that Afghanistan was a hodge-podge of tribal and ethnic units moving toward the creation of a modern nation-state, a process continuing today. Our faithful Mahfuz Ali showed greater prescience in 1885 and recommended partition between Russia and Britain: From the European standard, such a partition would perhaps be looked upon as a rare blessing. The verdict would, not improbably, go forth that, a petty State, in a miserable corner of the earth, which could not justify its existence by acquiring civilization on its own account, was improved off its face by two great civilized powers, bent on eradicating barbarism from such dreary, inhospitable regions (Muhammed Mahfuz Ali, The Truth About Russia and England: From a Natives Point of View [Lucknow: London Press, 1886], 56). The second volume of Abd-ur-Rahmans Life was probably composed by his Indian secretary. For a comparable set of opinions from a colonial subject who was obliged to contain his racism, the book makes interesting reading. Most biographers conjecture that it was as a result of the contents of this volume that Abd-ur-Rahmans heir Nasirullah banished the secretary from Afghanistan. 9. Richard M. Eaton, Temple Desecration in Pre-Modern India, Frontline 17, no. 25 (922 December 2000), available at . 10. Jacques Lacan, The Splendor of Antigone, in The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 19591960, trans. Dennis Porter (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992), 26263. 11. Tarun Tejpal, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Seminar 502 (June 2001): 14. 12. Leti Volpp, Feminism Versus Multiculturalism, Columbia Law Review 101, no. 5 (June 2001): 118687. 13. 15 October 2001.


G l o b a l i c i t i e s : Te r r o r a n d I t s C o n s e q u e n c e s

14. John F. Burns, Pakistan Antiterror Support Avoids Vow of Military Aid, New York Times, 16 September 2001, 5. 15. Raymond Williams, Marxism and Culture (London: Verso, 1980), 12127. 16. Syed Mujtaba Ali, Deshe-Bideshe, in Rachanabali (Kolkata: Mitra o Ghosh, 1385 [Bengali date]), vol. 10. This and the following passage are from pages 2930. Translation mine. 17. I am grateful to Brent Edwards for this communication. 18. I have discussed the role of teaching in the formation of collectivities in Schmitt and Post Stucturalism: A Response, Cardozo Law Review 21, no. 56 (May 2000): 172337. Necessary but impossible taskslike taking care of health, although it is impossible to be immortal; or continuing to listen, read, write, talk, and teach, although it is impossible that everything be communicatedlead to renewed and persistent effort. I use this formula because this is the only justication for humanities pedagogy. This is distinct from the utopian mode, which allows us to gure the impossible.