Feb. 19th: Nivedita Majumdar, “Silencing the Subaltern: The Faux-Feminism of Post-Colonial Theory”

February 19, 2018

In this talk, Nivedita Majumdar will critically review one of the central claims of postcolonial theory—that it upholds the social agency of dominated groups. This talk focuses on some of the foundational texts of the field, including the work of Ranajit Guha, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha, to examine how they analyze the place of resistance in gender relations. It shows that there is a considerable gap between what the theorists claim to show and what they actually argue in these texts. Instead of upholding women’s resistance to patriarchy, they redefine agency so that acquiescence to patriarchy is presented as a struggle against it. This calls into question the contribution that postcolonial theory can make to subaltern politics.

Nivedita Majumdar is an associate professor of English at John Jay College. She is the author of The Other Side of Terror and a contributor to the journal Catalyst. She is the secretary of the Professional Staff Congress, the CUNY faculty and staff union.