Subalternizing Caste

QUESTIONING THE POSTCOLONIAL READING OF SUBALTERNITY VIS-À-VIS CASTE IN SPIVAK’S TRANSLATION OF “DRAUPADI”


Ahana Bhattacharjee


All About Ambedkar: A Journal on Theory and Praxis, Volume 2, Number 2 | Full Text PDF

 

ABSTRACT


In “Can the Subaltern Speak,” Spivak proposes a terminology for the experiential language of historically marginalized individuals/communities, who have been systematically oppressed, in a paternalist, consumerist world order. The concept of subalternity, understood within the dichotomy of postcolonial literary theory, in South East Asia, situates the question of caste and gender on a prejudicial social order, based on sexual, racial, and occupational hierarchy of purity and inferiority. The question of caste and gender in India is complicated by the existence of the Dalit “other,” whose oppression is designated by their historical location in the margins. The axiom of Dalit womanhood, when read at the intersection of gender and caste, infracts subjective categorisation proposed by a universal postcolonial identity. This paper argues how Spivak’s brand of postcolonialism and Devi’s partisanship misconstrues the atrophied socio-cultural hegemony of caste vis-à-vis gender. I deliberate on the possibility of an alternate epistemology, independent of Western paradigms of knowledge creation and criticism, and ideologically explicated historical fiction, as witnessed in Spivak’s translator’s comment and Mahasweta Devi’s narrativization of Draupadi.


KEYWORDS: Caste, Gender, Draupadi, Postcolonialism, Subaltern, Dalit womanhood



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