The Constraints of Chibber’s Criticism

A Review of Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital by Vivek Chibber

in Historical Materialism
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

A position joining critical theory with the Marxist critique of imperialism informs the following discussion on the perceived shortcomings of Chibber’s study in its avowed claim to disavow postcolonial theory. Chibber’s insistence on reading Subaltern Studies as postcolonial theory is unsustainable in that it fails to address the epistemological premises of a theory adopted and not initiated by the project. Whereas Chibber does ably contest assertions made by Subaltern Studies concerning the special conditions of India halting capitalism’s universalising drive, his concentrated but narrowly-focused and repetitive criticism disregards prior work contiguous to his own specialism as well as disciplines other than the social sciences. Thus the explanatory power of Uneven and Combined Development in understanding the internal conditions of societies conscripted into capitalism is cast aside, as are the resources of Marxist cultural criticism in writing a metanarrative of these consequences in all of their aspects: economic, social, cultural and experiential – omissions that paradoxically are to the fore in postcolonial theory.

The Constraints of Chibber’s Criticism

A Review of Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital by Vivek Chibber

in Historical Materialism

References

AdornoTheodorBenjaminWalterBlochErnstBrechtBertoltLukácsGeorg, Aesthetics and Politics, (New Left Books, London 1977).

AminSamir, Accumulation on a World Scale, (Monthly Review Press, New York 1974 [1970]).

AndersonKevin B., Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism Ethnicity and Non-Western Societies, (University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2010).

AndersonPerry, Considerations on Western Marxism, (New Left Books, London 1976).

AndersonPerry, '‘Modernity and Revolution’' (1984) I(144) New Left Review: 96-113.

AndersonPerry, The Origins of Postmodernity, (Verso, London 1998).

ArnoldDavid, '‘Gramsci and Peasant Subalternity in India’', in Vinayak Chaturvedi (ed), Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Postcolonial, (Verso, London 2000).

Francis Barker, Peter Hulme, Margaret Iversen and Diana Loxley (eds), Europe and Its Others, (University of Essex, Colchester 1985) two volumes.

Crystal Bartolovich and Neil Lazarus (eds), Marxism Modernity and Postcolonial Studies, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2002).

BhabhaHomi, '‘“Why Can’t A Civil Society Activist Become A Minister?”: Prachi Pinglay-Plumber Interviews Homi K. Bhabha’' (2014) Outlook India, January available at: <http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?289111>.

'‘Postcolonial Studies between the European Wars’' (2002) 2002.

BrennanTimothy, Wars of Position: The Cultural Politics of Left and Right, (Columbia University Press, New York 2006).

BrennerRobert, '‘Marxism: Crisis or Renewal?’', in Erik Olin Wright, Andrew Levine and Elliot Sober (eds), Reconstructing Marxism: Essays on Explanation and the Theory of History, (Verso, London 1992).

CabralAmilcarHandysideRichard, Revolution in Guinea: Selected Texts, (Monthly Review Press, New York 1972).

ChakrabartyDipesh, '‘Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change’' (2012) 43(1) New Literary History: 1-18.

ChatterjeePartha, '‘Subaltern Studies and Capital’' (2013) 48(37) Economic and Political Weekly: 69-75.

Vinayak Chaturvedi (ed), Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Postcolonial, (Verso, London 2000).

ChibberVivek, '‘How Does the Subaltern Speak?’' (2013) 10 Jacobin interview with Jonah Birchavailable at: <https://www.jacobinmag.com/2013/04/how-does-the-subaltern-speak/>.

DavidsonNeil, '‘From Deflected Permanent Revolution to the Law of Uneven and Combined Development’' (2010) 128 International Socialism available at: <http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=686>.

DusselEnrique, '‘Beyond Eurocentrism: The World-System and the Limits of Modernity’', in Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi (eds), The Cultures of Globalization, (Duke University Press, Durham, NC 1988).

FabianJohannes, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object, (Columbia University Press, New York 1983).

GopalPriyamvada, '‘Reading Subaltern History’' (2004) 2004.

GramsciAntonioHoareQuintinNowell-SmithGeoffrey, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, (Lawrence and Wishart, London 1971).

HabermasJürgen, '‘Modernity: An Unfinished Project’', in Maurizio Passerin d’Entrèves and Seyla Benhabib (eds), Critical Essays on The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, (The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 1997).

HarootunianHarry, History’s Disquiet: Modernity Cultural Practice and the Question of Everyday Life, (Columbia University Press, New York 2000).

HeidemanPaul, '‘A Note on Chibber, Chatterjee, and Guha’' (2013) Marxist Marginalia, May available at: <https://herrnaphta.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/a-note-on-chibber-chatterjee-and-guha/>.

HorkheimerMaxAdornoTheodorCummingJohn, Dialectic of Enlightenment, (Verso, London 1979 [1944]).

JamesonFrederic, '‘Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capital’' (1986) 15 Social Text: 65-88.

JamesonFrederic, Postmodernism or: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, (Verso, London 1991).

JamesonFrederic, A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present, (Verso, London 2002).

JamesonFrederic, '‘The End of Temporality’' (2003) 29(4) Critical Inquiry: 695-718.

JaniPranav, '‘Marxism and the Future of Postcolonial Theory’' (2014) 92 International Socialist Review available at: <http://isreview.org/issue/92/marxism-and-future-postcolonial-theory-0>.

KaiwarVasant, 'Book Review: Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference by Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India by Ranajit Guha' (2004) 12(2) Historical Materialism: 189-247.

KangLiu, Aesthetics and Marxism: Chinese Aesthetic Marxists and their Western Contemporaries, (Duke University Press, Durham, NC 2000).

LarsenNeil, '‘Imperialism, Colonialism, Postcolonialism: An Introduction’' (2001a) Larsen 2001c.

LarsenNeil, '‘Marxism, Postcolonialism and The Eighteenth Brumaire' (2001b) Larsen 2001c.

LarsenNeil, Determinations: Essays on Theory Narrative and Nation in the Americas, (Verso, London 2001c).

LazarusNeil, '‘The Fetish of “the West” in Postcolonial Theory’' (2002) 2002.

LazarusNeil, The Postcolonial Unconscious, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2012).

Neil Lazarus (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2004).

LazarusNeilVarmaRashmi, '‘Marxism and Postcolonial Studies’', in Jacques Bidet and Stathis Kouvelakis (eds), Critical Companion to Contemporary Marxism, (Brill, Leiden 2008).

LöwyMichael, The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development: The Theory of Permanent Revolution, (Haymarket Books, Chicago 2010 [1981]).

MamdaniMahmood, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, (Princeton University Press, Princeton 1996).

MariáteguiJosé CarlosBasadreJorge, Seven Interpretative Essays on Peruvian Reality, (University of Texas Press, Austin 1971).

ParryBenita, '‘Liberation Theory: Variations on Themes of Marxism and Modernity’' (2002) 2002.

PrakashGyan, '‘Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism’' (1994) 99(5) The American Historical Review: 1475-1490.

RosenbergJustin, '‘Basic Problems in the Theory of Uneven and Combined Development: A Reply to the CRIA Forum’' (2009) 22(1) Cambridge Review of International Affairs: 107-110.

RosenbergJustin, '‘Basic Problems in the Theory of Uneven and Combined Development. Part II: Unevenness and Political Multiplicity’' (2010) 23(1) Cambridge Review of International Affairs: 165-189.

RosenbergJustin, '‘The Philosophical Premises of Uneven and Combined Development’' (2013) 39(3) Review of International Studies: 569-597.

SaidEdward, Culture and Imperialism, (Chatto and Windus, London 1993).

SarkarSumit, '‘The Decline of the Subaltern in Subaltern Studies’', in Writing Social History, (Oxford University Press, New Delhi 1997).

SchwarzRoberto, John Gledson (ed), Misplaced Ideas: Essays on Brazilian Culture, (Verso, London 1992).

SchwarzRobertoGledsonJohn, A Master on the Periphery of Capitalism, (Duke University Press, Durham, NC 2001).

SpivakGayatri Chakravorty, '‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’', in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, (Macmillan, London 1988).

SpivakGayatri Chakravorty, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present, (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA 1999).

SpivakGayatri Chakravorty, '‘Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital’' (2014) 27(1) Cambridge Review of International Affairs: 184-203.

TaylorChris, '‘Not Even Marxist: On Vivek Chibber’s Polemic against Postcolonial Theory’' (2013) Of C.L.R. James, April available at: <http://clrjames.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/not-even-marxist-on-vivek-chibbers.html>.

TrotskyLeon, History of the Russian Revolution Volume One, (Victor Gollancz, London 1965 [1930]).

VaughanMegan, Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness, (Polity Press, Cambridge 1991).

ViswanathanGauri, Outside the Fold: Conversion Modernity and Belief, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 1998).

René Wellek (ed), Dostoevsky: A Collection of Critical Essays, (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 1961).

WoodEllen Meiksins, '‘Back to Marx’' (1997) 49 Monthly Review 2 available at: <http://monthlyreview.org/1997/06/01/back-to-marx/>.

WReC [Warwick Research Collective], Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World Literature, (Liverpool University Press, Liverpool 2015).

YoungRobert, '‘Postcolonial Remains’' (2012) 43(1) New Literary History: 19-42.

3

Davidson 2010.

7

Anderson 1976pp. 29 30 49 74.

8

Anderson 1998pp. 65 66 97.

9

Gopal 2004pp. 139–61 141 142. In his all-too-short introduction to Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Postcolonial Vinayak Chaturvedi has condensed the dynamics of the project: after fending off the accusation made by Indian Marxists of failing to engage with the long tradition of Marxist scholarship on peasant rebellion prominent participants under the influence of Foucault during the mid-1980s became disenchanted with the search ‘for an essential structure to peasant consciousness’ and aspired to confront ‘subaltern critiques of all traditions which appeared to adhere uncritically to the “Enlightenment project” ’; later in the decade there was ‘a shift towards critical theories of discourse which challenged Enlightenment thought’. Chaturvedi (ed.) 2000 pp. xi xiii.

12

Kaiwar 2004pp. 189–247 209–10 221–2.

13

Prakash 1994.

14

Viswanathan 1998.

15

Young 2012p. 28.

16

Harootunian 2000pp. 62–3; see also endnote 4 (p. 163).

17

Amin 1974. See also Dussel 1998.

18

Mariátegui 1971.

19

Cabral 1972.

23

Chatterjee 2013p. 10.

24

Chakrabarty 2012p. 4.

30

Spivak 1999. Such work offered propositions written in syntactically knotted prose and calculated to shock the unreconstructed left while a daring stance of assaulting both conservatives and radicals attracted a wide circle of epigones and captivated untold numbers of students prone to imitating their cryptic styles. As an example Spivak wrote of her intention to transcend the humanist limitations of Said’s Orientalism through executing ‘a Derridian move on Said’s Foucauldian reading of colonialism as a discursive practice’ proposing instead that ‘the abstract textualist notion of deconstruction’ be equated ‘with a principle of anticolonialist/antimperialist subversion’ (cited in Larsen 2001b p. 64). For a taste of transcendent-post-postcolonial style see Bhabha 2014.

31

Larsen 2001app. 64–5 and 2001b pp. 28–9.

34

See Arnold 2000.

36

Gopal 2004p. 157.

38

Löwy 2010pp. 52 68.

42

Jameson 1986.

43

Jameson 2003.

44

Jameson 1991p. 307. As Perry Anderson long ago pointed out when commenting on Marx writing from the 1840s onwards ‘Marx’s own conception of the historical time of the capitalist mode of production . . . was of a complex and differential temporality in which episodes or eras were discontinuous from each other and heterogeneous within themselves’ (Anderson 1984 p. 101). See also Anderson 2010.

46

Schwarz 1992pp. 3 29 41; Schwarz 2001.

48

Horkheimer and Adorno 1979p. 93. Jürgen Habermas has posited it as an unfinished project requiring the reconstruction of a public sphere in which the critical reason that represents the best of the ‘democratic tradition’ might prevail and not the instrumental reason of much modern practice. See Habermas 1997.

Information

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 62 62 25
Full Text Views 107 107 70
PDF Downloads 14 14 5
EPUB Downloads 8 8 0