Ep. 35 – Gayatri Spivak, In Other Worlds

This week Emily, Rachel, and John read Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak‘s collection of essays In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. We focus on three essays in particular: “Feminism and Critical Theory,” “The Politics of Interpretations,” and “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography,” discussing Spivak’s methodological approach to literary theory, the politics of textuality, her use of the word “evidence” in each essay to uncover different elements of the challenges–and politics–of literary interpretation, and her critiques of Marx, Julia Kristeva, Edward Said and Partha Chatterjee, among many others. The conversation also ponders over the different (?) kinds of readings Spivak engages in the essays, and what they mean for doing ‘theory.’ In My Tumblr Friend from Canada, we answer two questions from one of our listeners, dealing with advice for graduate school and, yes, our favorite music. Listen and share your thoughts!

Thanks to listener Hanna for suggesting we read this text.  Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. Thanks to Leah Dion and to B for the music.

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One thought on “Ep. 35 – Gayatri Spivak, In Other Worlds

  1. I found this discussion of the ostensible variations in Spivak’s methods of reading to be entirely thought provoking. This is especially true around 45 minutes, when you begin questioning what a deconstructive project might entail for Spivak. Here, the three of you suggest that perhaps Spivak is “reconstructing, not deconstructing” Marx, instead providing a “re-affirmative deconstruction”.

    My thoughts on this have to do with what Derrida (and his close friend and collaborator Spivak) imagines deconstruction to be. It seems that perhaps Derrida has always viewed deconstruction, through his ideas of “differance” and “trace” —the simultaneous movement of (re)-inscription and effacement—, as a way for pointing towards the instability of any reading or proposed meaning/epistemology; these readings, no matter how liberating, are always-already to be subjugated for effacement by the predominant mode of thinking (often the subjugating side of a binary). Thus Spivak’s deconstructive reading of Marx would seemingly trace the topology of the negative spaces where women (or perhaps feminism) exist in the textuality of Marx. It is not a reparative reading like Sedgwick might suggest, but rather a tracing of these feminine specters.

    Derrida’s “Specter’s of Marx” and “Differance” and Homi Babba’s “Signs Taken as Wonders” I think could be enlightening additions to this conversation.

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