Prof. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
University Professor in the Humanities
Columbia University
United States

Why Nationalisms in South and North Today?

Although in an economically restructured world, capital is almost fully global, economic growth is still measured state by state. It is necessary ideologically to keep this competitive spirit, required for globality to function in a capitalist way, to thicken the abstractions of the state with the fuzziness of the nation. These new nationalisms, based on phantasmatic identity politics, go against the performative contradictions (between liberty for me and equality for others) of democracy as mindset rather than vote count alone. Historically, then, how to think the Marshall Plan and today's One Belt One Road together? The new subaltern -- unlike in Gramsci's day -- is precisely used for democracy as body count in the largest sectors of the electorate. In terms of this, how do we compute the relationship between subalternity and citizenship? Undergirding all, we must ask how to think gender within this confusing picture of our world. These questions can cover over the fact that economic growth does not promise social inclusion; and that identity is tremendously heterogeneous even within the "same" language, the "same" religion -- and this too is ideologically managed.


Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. She has a first class B.A. (English Honors) from the University of Calcutta (1959) and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Cornell University (1967). She is the chief trainer and teacher at five elementary schools on the border of Birbhum and Jharkhand; and promotes ecological agriculture in this general area. She is engaged in activism critical of Development in Africa. Her books are Myself Must I Remake (1974), Of Grammatologie (1976; translation with critical introduction of Derrida’s De la grammatologie), In Other Worlds (1987), Outside in the Teaching Machine (1993), A Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999), Other Asias (2003), An Aesthetic Education (2013), and Readings (2014). She has won the Kyoto Prize (2012), and the Padma Bhushan (2013). She holds twelve honorary doctorates. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” has become a worldwide classic. She is on the experts list of the World Economic Forum.