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.
BhabhaHomi, '‘“Why Can’t A Civil Society Activist Become A Minister?”: Prachi Pinglay-Plumber Interviews Homi K. Bhabha’' (2014) Outlook India, Januaryavailable at: <http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?289111>.
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, MA1997).
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.
TaylorChris, '‘Not Even Marxist: On Vivek Chibber’s Polemic against Postcolonial Theory’' (2013) Of C.L.R. James, Aprilavailable at: <http://clrjames.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/not-even-marxist-on-vivek-chibbers.html>.
Gopal2004pp. 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.
Kaiwar2004pp. 189–247 209–10 221–2.
Harootunian2000pp. 62–3; see also endnote 4 (p. 163).
Amin1974. See also Dussel 1998.
Spivak1999. 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.
Larsen2001app. 64–5 and 2001b pp. 28–9.
Löwy2010pp. 52 68.
Jameson1991p. 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.
Schwarz1992pp. 3 29 41; Schwarz 2001.
Horkheimer and Adorno1979p. 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.