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Chakrabarty and Derrida

Dipesh Chakrabarty—“The Idea of Provincializing Europe” (2000)


1st approach—look at theory/practice divide.  Do we really practice the theories we profess to practice? 


2nd approach—look at history from new-historicist perspective—old historicism sees texts as reflecting the time, culture, and period; new historicism looks at texts reflect ideologies and values of time but they preserve them and shape them


3rd approach—interrogate diachronic, chronological versions of history, which causes anachronism; use historicist which is synchronic and takes rhetorical perspective to looking at historiography. 


He is concerned with discourses that created Europe.  Subaltern studies—initiative taken up Bengali scholars (Spivak and Gua)  to rewrite history by excavating facts that have been left out of history.  Not totally successful because always reinscribe as they try to dismantle…


Gua—“dominance without hegemony”—Gua says that much of history did not proceed by hegemonic rule.  In fact, people did not give consent in the colonization of India.  The colonized only give consent until they can uprise and gain power to liberate themselves.  Natives only accept power until they can overcome, so even though colonization seems to be hegemonic, the colonized only act as if they are hegemonized until they can revolt.


Imperialism occurs through interpolation of hegemonic discourse.  Colonialism can happen and does happen without hegemony.  The myth of hegemony perpetuates hegemony.  In this grand narrative, the peasants are passive, weak, without consciousness, but they weren’t.


Critique of classical Marxist narrative. 


Jacques Derrida—The Monolingualism of the Other; or, The Prosthesis of Origin


Written in later life.


We only ever speak one language.  We never speak only one language.


Moment we try to translate our self, we create gap, lack, amnesia. 

We are not unified I and we cannot say the truth.


With structuralists, language is not just a medium, it structures meaning.  Meaning is possible from differential quality of language and that a deep structure in language and once we internalize this structure, we can understand how meaning is made.


Post-structuralists, what is subject, how is meaning made, deep structure is not center that gives meaning.  Gap between I who speaks (Subject of Enunciating) that pronounces and the I in language (Subject of Enunciation).  There is gap.  Therefore, we can’t possess, inhabit language.  Language creates us.  We are used by language just as much as we use language.  Heidegger and Nietzsche influences Derrida.  Descarte—I think; therefore I am. 


Derrida says we don’t internalize language, we internalize concepts, ideologies.


Hybridity, subjectivity, postionality are postcolonial terms that apply to this essay. 


Hybridity–How do marginalized subjects appropriate power and create third space, alternative space, discourse, etc.


Positionality—aware of our own positionality;




Derrida takes on all this issues with autobiographical tone/approach.


Citizenship/nationhood—language determines this. 


Derrida, along with Foucault and Freud, are metaauthors. 


Form of this essay is performative contradiction, so unlike Plato’s dialectics which attempts to find answer, Derrida diverges from this Western traditional form.


Dialect of two selves.


Langauge and citizenship are predicated on removal and threat.


We are always haunted by pure past and origin of knowledge (hauntology).  We create pure past to solve our own curiousity.  The spectral function of past leads to violent and less violent forms of domination….














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