On Vivek Chibber’s Critique of Postcolonial and Subaltern Studies

December 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

That Faint Light

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Debating Vivek Chibber’s Postcolonial Theory and the Spectre of Capital

Only two months ago, Verso brought out the much-anticipated (by me, if no one else) book by NYU Marxian sociologist Vivek Chibber, Postcolonial Theory and the Spectre of Capital. Appropriately enough, the debate has commenced with Chibber’s interventions at the Historical Materialism Conferences in Delhi and New York – at the latter of which he debated Partha Chatterjee, a leader of the Subaltern Studies school which is his main target.

Chibber, previously known for his erudite intervention on the Nehruvian developmental model of the postcolonial Indian state[1], had earlier announced his intention of dismantling the dominance of postcolonial theory in his essay “The Decline of Class Analysis in South Asian Studies.”

This aim was nothing if not calculated to be highly provocative toward people working in South Asian studies, the study of the postcolonial world (Asia, Oceania, Africa, Latin…

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