On Wednesday night, a retired Bwogger relived his glory days of lecturehopping when he headed downtown and attempted to decipher the postmodern conundrum of a panel featuring Columbia professors Gayatri Spivak and Rosalind Morris, and soon-to-be-Columbia-professor Judith Butler.
So, humanities majors, you know that first time you go back home freshman year, probably for Thanksgiving? Over turkey, you try to explain to your parents the colonial problems with the holiday, which then somehow becomes you trying to explain how gender is socially constructed. You end up sounding pretentious, and your dad ends up saying something like, “if gender is socially constructed, then why do all girls like pink? Can you explain that?” This results in you slamming your face down into the mashed potatoes.
Well, the two academics perhaps most responsible for this conversation—Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Judith Butler—shared the stage this past Wednesday at the CUNY graduate center to discuss and celebrate “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, Spivak’s foundational 1983 essay that helped make postcolonial studies into the pervasive discipline it is today. Any attempt to sum up the essay’s arguments will be insufficient, but suffice it to say that the answer to the title’s question was and remains “not yet,” according to Spivak. (more…)