Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
by Akriti Dhasmana
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is an influential critical theorist and researcher with interests mainly in 19th and 20th Century Literature, Marxism, Feminism Deconstruction, General French Theory, Globalization and Postcolonial Political Theory, and Critical Social Theory. Spivak is known for her work as a postcolonial critic and has been the recipient of several awards including the third highest civilian honor in India, the Padma Bhushan. She also received the Kyoto Prize for Philosophy in 2012. Her most well known piece of work is “Can the subaltern Speak?” which was published in the year 1988. Within her work, she discusses the lack of insurgency and voice of the Indian women who were subjected to the Sati practice. Her work describes how Eurocentric narratives of the abolishment of the Sati practice actively deny voice to this subaltern community of women who were the colonial subjects. Another work by her titled “A Critique of Postcolonial Reason” makes similar arguments on how the colonial history and narratives exclude the subaltern experience and discussions. Specializing in postcolonial narratives, Spivak has had a robust career teaching at several prestigious institutions.
Spivak is known to apply a deconstructive approach to her criticism: she calls her personal type of deconstruction as interventionist (Britannica). She has translated the works of Jacques Derrida and Mahasweta Devi, and her preface for Derrida’s work is heralded for its self reflective and insightful nature. Spivak graduated first class honors with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Calcutta in 1959. She finished her graduate studies in Comparative Literature at Cornell University and went on to do her PhD at the University of Iowa. Her dissertation was on Yeats and was directed by the renowned post structuralist critic Paul de Man (Al-Bayyati). After finishing her PhD, she attended Girton College, Cambridge as a research student. She subsequently worked as a professor at the University of Texas-Austin, Emory University, University of Pittsburgh and University of Chicago. She is currently a University Professor at Columbia University and is also the founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. Can the Subaltern Speak? Colbert B, 1998.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “A Critique of Postcolonial Reason.” 1999, doi:10.2307/j.ctvjsf541.
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Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak". Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Feb. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gayatri-Spivak. Accessed 23 March 2021.
Bhatnagar, Rashmi, et al. “Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's Influences: Past, Present, Future.” PMLA, vol. 123, no. 1, 2008, pp. 235–249. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25501844. Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.
“Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.” 京都賞,www.kyotoprize.org/en/laureates/gayatri_chakravorty_spivak/.
Chakraborty, Mridula Nath. “Everybody’s Afraid of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Reading Interviews with the Public Intellectual and Postcolonial Critic.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 35, no. 3, 2010, pp. 621–645., doi:10.1086/649575.
Danius, Sara, et al. “An Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.” Boundary 2, vol. 20, no. 2, 1993, p. 24., doi:10.2307/303357.
Morris, Rosalind C., editor. Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea. Columbia University Press, 2010. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/morr14384. Accessed 24 Mar. 2021.