ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Subaltern Studies and the Dalit Subalterns

Dipesh Chakrabarty, in his review (“Expiating the Doctrine”, EPW, 2 April 2011) of Aditya Nigam’s book (After Utopia: Modernity, Socialism, and the Postcolony), takes issue with the larger questions of “cultures of criticism” espoused by the communist parties and Marxist thinkers in India. Even though he admits that Nigam’s book tries to avoid the pre-emptive labelling and condemnation of such styles of criticisms, Chakrabarty feels that in certain points in the text, Nigam’s attempt is merely “opening the door to close it again”. He illustrates his point with Nigam’s analysis of Chandrabhan Prasad’s celebration of Macaulay’s ideas and Mayawati’s claims for the worship of the goddess of English language. Chakrabarty complains that Nigam, in his treatment of the criticism and arguments of the two, uses the same old communist party language and dismisses the arguments of the individual critics without considering the differences and standpoints among them.

Chakrabarty is right to an extent, but he simply evades some of the substantial questions raised in the book on the pole mical arguments made by Chandrabhan or Mayawati. He does not consider any of the ambiguities and tensions between the subaltern studies school and a section of the dalit subaltern intellectuals/activists on various questions like the nation, culture, colonialism, caste, consciousness, and modernity. The critical engagement and productive tensions between the two has been visible even in the spaces of metropolitan universities and local forums. Moreover, we have seen in recent times from the assertive positions of the dalit subalterns on the issues of nationalism and colonialism, a kind of accidental or un/conscious convergence of positions on some of these issues between the postcolonialists and the right wing nationalists.

Chandran Komath

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Back to Top