Literary Theory²Discussion on Spivak (³Can the Subaltern Speak?´) and Spillers (³Mama¶s Baby, Papa¶s Maybe´) May 19, 2011 In this week, please focus on Spivak¶s ³Can the Subaltern Speak?´ (Section A). After you think that you have a fair grasp of Spivak¶s problematic, proceed to discuss Section B on Spillers¶ ³Mama¶s Baby, Papa¶s Maybe´. A summary of the latter is provided at the end of this handout. A. 1. On Representation: In Section I, Spivak discusses in details the different definitions or presumptions of ³class´ (here the shorthand for the proletariat class, later as the subaltern, later as the subaltern woman) in Deleuze/Foucault and in Marx. Her argument for Marx¶s unessentialist (³artificial,´ p. 278) concept of class centers on the distinctions between Vertreten (used by Marx) and Darstellen (presumed by Foucault, Deleuze and other leftists). Please read the passages distinguishing the two senses of representation on p. 275 and p. 276 closely, including Marx¶s definition of the proletariat class. Explain why Marx¶s discussions 1) entail ³a social µsubject¶ whose consciousness and Vertretung are dislocated and incoherent´ (p. 276); 2) ³imply a critique of the subject as individual agent [and] a critique even of the subjectivity of a collective agency´ (277); and 3) do not lead to the ³positivism´ (p. 277), ³positivist empiricism´ (p. 275), ³representationalist realism´ (p 274)²the ³justifying foundation of advanced capitalist neocolonialism´ (p. 275)²implicit in Foucault and Deleuze¶s philosophy of power and desire.. 2. On Subaltern Studies: The title of the essay, ³Can the Subaltern Speak?´ often gives the impression that Spivak is speaking from the perspective of subaltern studies, when in fact she is critical of it in this essay. Please read and explain her challenges on subaltern studies: First, explain how she problematizes and historicizes its formation on p. 282; Secondly, read her close analyses of Ranajit Guha¶s definitions of the subaltern on pp. 283-4, especially her reading of item #3 on pp. 284-4 and item #4 on p. 285. Finally, explain her critique of Ajit K. Chaudhury. Why, in the final analysis, are µall three [European intellectuals, subaltern studies, and internationalist Marxism] united in the assumption that there is a pure form of consciousness´ (p. 286)? (This, then, is the springboard for her critique of the µalliance politics,¶ p. 289. You may also include this part to your discussion and show how Spivak counters this utopian alliance politics with the call for close analyses of µworlding of the world¶ (p. 286), of µinternational division of labor¶.)
Are there similarities in their critiques?
. as in Freud¶s psychoanalysis. and p. While critical of Foucault and Deleuze to have bypassed the critiques of representation and ideology as well as the subaltern studies¶ presumption of self-representation. as the uncanny agency of the subaltern voice-consciousness. Section III). p. Do you think Spivak offers a way for intellectuals to not abstain from representation? (You can also use her discussions of Derrida to explain whether you find her intellectual model sufficient. 299 (tatvajnana. Please discuss this complicated historical/discursive trajectory from ³the fabrication of repression´ to ³a constructed counternarrative of woman¶s consciousness. Spivak nevertheless argues that ³there is no unpresentable subaltern subject that can know and speak itself. thus woman¶s desire´ (p. thus woman¶s being. the ³history of repression that produces the final sentence´ (297). 1. and 3) the ideological continuity or discontinuity in Bhuvaneswari¶s suicide. 299/p. 302) and to the suicide of the female revolutionary. 2.) B. A general question on the role of the intellectual: Throughout the essay. 302 (brahmacarya and satyagrah). thus the good woman¶s desire. 4. The unsettling question. 285). however. p. the intellectual¶s solution is not to abstain from representation´ (p. 300 (18th and 19th century Bengal according to Ashis Nandy). She examines. (Cont¶d from A. Explain specifically the following points: 1) the history and pre-history of Hindu widow sacrifice summarized by Spivak on p. Her examination of the multi-layered history and discourse leads Spivak to connect widow sacrifice with martyrdom (p. 308).´ p. On sati/suttee: Against the ³benevolent´ imperialist discourse (p. 298) and Indian nativist argument that ³the women actually wanted to die´ (297). Spivak famously concocts a ³sentence´ (voice?)²³White men are saving brown women from brown men´ (p. 296). thus woman¶s being good. 304 (Raghunandana¶s transpositions). 303 (jauhar). Spivak is concerned with the role of the intellectual (both ³First-world´ and postcolonial) in her (rhetorical) question. 2) the irony of choice and free will in both the imperialists¶ and nativist¶ accounts after the British abolition in 1829. is how. 304). p. Bhuvaneswari Bhaduri. 278/ Spillers.2
3. 1) Please discuss the problems of representation in the ³Moynihan Report´ (Section I). first category of sanctioned suicide). ³Can the Subaltern Speak?´ (to which she answers point-blank. at the end of the essay. Both Spivak and Spillers react to the psychoanalytic foregrounding of the family and Lacan¶s concept of The Name of the Father (Spivak: p. ³The subaltern cannot speak.
Both of them critique the first-world (feminist) intellectuals¶ account of desire. Compare the way they re-introduce the palimpsestic historiography (Spivak: Section IV/ Spillers: Section II): what are the texts they re-examine and what interventions does this historical reading make?
. 2) Both Spivak and Spillers resist a positivist and essentialist definition of the subaltern/the negro.3
3. Spivak highlights µinterests¶ and ³differends´ while Spillers proposes to substitute the interest in negro¶s body (or skin) with the concept of µflesh¶ (387). Against desire and identity. Please discuss and compare their strategies and agendas. 4. (Cont¶d from A. 3) Both Spivak and Spillers emphasize history. (Cont¶d from A.
a meeting ground of investments and privations in the national treasury of rhetorical wealth.´
quote from the ³Moynihan Report.´ Lacan¶s ³Nom/Non du Père. The Negro American Family.´ which states that the retardation of the Negro race is to blame on the matriarchal kinship structure. It states that with the wins on civil rights. The Name²the African American Woman & the ³Personal Pronoun´ Remember Austin¶s example: ³I name this ship the Queen Elizabeh.´ ³Chapter III. Spillers¶ responses to the ³Moynihan Report´
Check: http://www.htm The Moynihan Report was conducted in 1965 and supported by the Office of Policy Planning and Research of the United States Department of Labor. not better.´ ³mythical prepossession´ 2. ³the names by which I am called in the public render an example of signifying property plus. The four chapters explore the ³pathology´ of Negro family and community:: ³Chapter I. The Tangle of Pathology.´ (384)
* contrary to psychoanalysis. Spillers PART I: INTRODUCTION 1.´ ³Chapter II. for which signification operates on or is generated by the (signifier of the) lack.the black woman: ³telegraphic coding.´ (385)
.´ -. lies in the Negro family. The problem. racial problems in American have got worse.´ ³Sapphire and ³Earth Mother.4
³Mama¶s Baby. (384) ³[According to Daniel Patrick] The ³Negro Family´ has no Father to speak of.´ and Butler¶s ³Hey! You!´ or ³Hey! Nigger´
Peaches´ and ³Brown Sugar. the report states.dol.´ and ³Chapter V. The Roots of the Problem.gov/oasam/programs/history/webid-meynihan. Papa¶s Maybe´ by Hortense J.´ ³Chapter IV. The Case for National Action.´ ³Aunty´«: ³a locus of confounded identities. The Negro American Revolution.
´ p 386 the Other= pathological
the absence of the Negro Father.´ by outright assertion. in both senses of the word 3) its historicity indicates that race is no longer ³skin deep´ * the danger of forgetting the flesh²p. Reading and Challenges of the ³Symbolic Law´ and the ³Name of the Father´
³The notorious bastard« has no official female equivalent. (not just a sexuality thing when the power un-genders)
The ³Charleton Mercury´ ad: human laboratory of the atomized body (parts) in 1838: the language of capitivity and mutilation in the ruling episteme of naming and multilation: Does history happens? (387)
PART II: ANTHROPOLOGY. NARRATIVES OF CONTACT/CONQUEST
. ungendering of the African American Body (386) The effect: the Captive Body without a subject position: it becomes purely thingness. in a constant opposition of binary opposition.´ (385)
4. the socio-political order of the New World. 385)
The stunning reversal of the castration thematic becomes ³an aspect of the African-American female¶s misnaming.´ (384) p.5
³Under the Moynihan rule. 387 African American female body is not only raped. besides the Body is also the ³Flesh´ Why Flesh instead of the Body?: (386-7) 1) it is where history of African American subjects is written on by the whips. 2) slavery is therefore high crimes against the flesh.´ (386)
3. and the outlaw of the Daughter²doubles they ³transport us to a common historical ground. it becomes pornographic
Therefore. History (of the New World) = Flesh/Body of the African American Slave
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theft of the body. µethinicity¶ itself identifies a total objectification of human and cultural motives²the µwhite¶ family« and the µNegro Family. it is whipped.
³bestial´ (391) Differences (in food. (398) Violence of the symbolic: no point of initiation.´
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Skin supersedes blood relations to become the divider the µugly¶ becomes the µpagan¶ The µugly¶ and the µfaithless¶ becomes unhuman. Written by Himself´ (1789)
Visual shock on both sides: what does this shock mean to Equiano? His subsequent ³journey´ across the Atlantic is a fall.org/a/OL2213199A/Elizabeth-Donnan
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2. a ³veritable descent into the loss of communicative force´ (398) The aphasia of the slave: the loss of the symbolic (398) The captive is renamed by the capitivating party.6
1. but violence prevails in the structure of dehumanized naming (the 4 volumes of Elizabeth Donnan¶s documents do not contain direct references to slave women) (390) See: http://openlibrary.com/Slave%20Ships%20and%20the%20Atlantic%20C rossing%20Middle%20Passage/pages/Plan%20of%20the%20British%20Slave %20Ship%20Brookes.htm
. and unlike Equiano.liverpoolmuseums. the African. ³Life of Olaudah Equiano. customs) are translated into ³a fundamental degradation or transcendence.aspx http://negroartist.org. esp. or Gustavuv Vassa.%201789_jpg.´ which then is connected to skin color (392)
3. architecture.uk/TheMiddlePassage. 390) Description of types of black people: reducing a spectrum of dark skin to ³black as Ethiops´ (390-1)) ³Declension´ (391): ³it begins with a narrative self. this collective self uncovers the means by which to subjugate the µforeign code of the conscience.¶ whose most easily remarkable and irremediable difference is perceived in skin color. ³The Brookes´ & the Middle Passage See: http://blog. who also saw µugly¶ when he looked out. no direct reference. in an apparent unity of feeling. on African American women. Gomes Eannes de Azurara¶s ³Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea. 1441-1448) (in Elizabeth Donnan)
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Geography is fiction (p.
2. they lack identity. Female slave experiences are not recorded²neither their oppressions (they perform the same kind of labor as male slaves).S.´ 396 Slavery creates a ³community´ of memory and inspiration²community instead of family (397) This different connectedness challenges the symbolic order and offers an alternative ³kinship´ that does not have legal or social efficacy. and patriarchal order (396) African American kinship ³loses meaning.8m x o. an American Slave (1845) ( )
Kinship is coupled with property
. Frederick Douglass¶s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. female: 1. Definition of enslavement as appropriation (property) and as
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kinlessness Robertson & Klein¶s Women and Slavery in Africa 395 Meillassoux: slavery creates an economic and social agent whose virtue lies in being outside the kinship system The Mother does not ³own´ her children. The human cargo of a slave vessel« offers a counter-narrative to notions of the domestic. they belong to the Master patronymic.´ (393) Slaves in the Middle Passage are in a place that is nowhere.7
Seemingly gender difference in the space assigned to each slave on the lower deck of ³The Brookes´: (male: 1.´ 396 ³Family´ is the´ mythically revered privilege of a free and freed community. nor their ³insurrection´ (394).¶s argument: ³¶gendering¶ takes place within the confines of the domestic«.4 m) H. Gender does not apply. No record of pregnant or expecting mothers the patriarchalized female gender is the only female gender (394)
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PART THREE: KINSHIP: AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN¶S EXPERIENCES 1. patrifocal. since it can be invaded at any given and arbitrary moment by the property relations.4 m.7m x 0. patrilineal.
we might suggest that the ungendered female« might be invaded/raided by another woman or man. motherhood loses its sacredness (398) Feelings of estrangement from the mother. Malcolm El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz. Linda Brent/Harriet Jacobs.´ And there is no easy reversal of the father¶s No to the maternal Yes. sister« every African American can be seen as an orphan because the mother is absent
PART FOUR: NEW GRAMMAR/AFRICAN AMERICAN TALE AS TALE ³BETWEEN THE LINES´ 1. Critique of Mainstream Feminism
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Female gender is an outcome of certain political. Critique of Legal/Liberal Politics
Law and encodation (of slavery) often becomes the peak of narrative points but they are the effects of the system of slavery which demands that a human treats another as property. Dispossession of slaves= loss of gender (400) ³One treads dangerous ground in suggesting an equation between female gender and mothering. (401)
. Flint (white female) in the oppression of the black female (399): she acts out his madness ³Since the gendered female exists for the male. estrangement and disremembering (398) 4. Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
Similar thematic. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1860)
The role of Mrs. social-cultural empowerment. despite the century that separates it from Douglass: loss of the father. brother.8
Kinship relationships in slavery will endanger property relationships. (401)
2. siblings dispersed. ownership of the children has to be deprived and given to the master: femininity loses its sacredness.
One has to introduce a new semantic field/fold. and false. once again. a line which is then equated to animality. because µmotherhood¶ is not perceived in the prevailing social climate as a legitimate procedure of culture inheritance. Misnaming of African American as the ³matrilineal community´ (403) ³Even though we are not even talking about any of the matriarchal features of social production/reproduction²matrifocality. matrilinearity.9
Therefore. we perceive that the dominant culture. slave) is realism. intruding tale. in fact. animals. assigns a matriarchist value where it does not belong. in a fatal misunderstanding. plates. This is the precondition of the ³Moynihan Report. furniture. conceptual. actually misnames the power of the female regarding the enslaved community.
One cannot only fight to take µslave¶ out of the sentence where you have stock. This is not Borges¶s or Foucault¶s (post-)modern ³order of things´ (which turns to abstract. this (the misplacement of the proper noun.
3. systematic connections between objects). It is beyond reach for human agency or ³civil disobedience´ (402). One has to fight the syntax (grammar) that makes such a sentence possible. (402)
4. African American tale as the intervening. matriarchy²when we speak of the enslaved person. furniture. books. the system of slavery forms a relationship which is no longer inter-subjective.´
. etc. human to human. or the tale ³between the lines´
Harriet Jcaob¶s µgarret¶ space (403) The loss of mother/motherhood is the origin of African American¶s loss of subjectivity/humanity. claim her child. Such naming is false because the female could not. where slave is in the same clause as stock.´ (403)
The absence/lack of the father is substituted by the line from mother to son. Critique of Postmodern ³Misnaming´
The example of the legislative enactment of 1798 in Maryland.
The African American Woman as a masquerade (404): ³the African-American woman. the Father¶s law.´
The African American male (cultural presence) becomes the site of representation of the African American woman (cultural absence)²404 ³¶Sapphire¶ enacts her µOld Man¶ in drag. just as her µOld Man¶ becomes µSapphire¶ in outrageous caricature. µSapphire¶ might rewrite after all a radically different text for a female enpo
. which her culture imposes in blindness.´ 385
New representational potentiality: ³« we are less interested in joining the ranks of gendered femaleness than gaining the insurgent ground as female social subject. the daughter. Actually claiming the monstrosity (of a
female with the potential to µname¶). becomes historically the powerful and shadowy evocation of a cultural synthesis long evaporated²the law of the Mother²only and precisely because legal enslavement removed the African-American male not so much from sight as from mimetic view as a partner in the prevailing social fiction of the Father¶s name.