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Summary

Can the Subaltern Speak? is a classic of postcolonial studies, the discipline that examines the impact of colonial control on countries that gained their independence from European powers from the 1940s onwards. The essay, written in 1988 by Calcutta-born scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, argues that a core problem for the poorest and most marginalized in society (the subalterns) is that they have no platform to express their concerns, and no voice to affect policy debates or demand a fairer share of society's goods. The women among them, says Spivak, are doubly oppressed.

Spivak first earned her academic reputation thanks to her English translation of French philosopher Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology. This work, as well as feminism and Marxism, strongly influenced Can the Subaltern Speak? The essay has been widely praised for the insights it brings to postcolonial studies, but has also been criticized as dense and difficult to understand.

©2016 Macat Inc (P)2016 Macat Inc

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  • Mariano Desmaras
  • 02-04-18

Repetitive and misses the essence

What would have made A Macat Analysis of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's Can the Subaltern Speak? better?

The analysis never gets to the core of her argument. I was looking for help with the dense theory and instead it was an academic history of the essay. I would have focused on the theory and make a better effort in un-packing it for the listener. For example it never really explain why the subaltern cannot speak. I just says that it cannot.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I was thinking of the Homi Bahbah analysis but now I'm not sure.

How could the performance have been better?

The reader performed well but there is a lot of unnecessary introductions to every chapter.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I'm glad someone is trying to do these topics on audiobooks.