Sunday, May 13, 2007

Gayatri Spivak revisited

Arnab Ray has blogged about Radheshyam Rasia's bhojpuri singing, with a brief reference to Spivak's theory of the subaltern.

Two months ago, I had written about the popular and the subaltern, with an embed of the same Rasia Tailor video. But now, I think a more accurate analogy to Spivak's Can the subaltern Speak? is the last scene in Antarmahal, where Jashomati, the zamindar's younger wife played by Soha Ali Khan, commits suicide.

Antarmahal is based on Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay's short story Protima. It's not clear if Jashomati is menstruating (see the movie and read Spivak's paper to know why I ask this question), but the ending is pretty close to Spivak's theory of the subaltern. In her original essay, Spivak writes about the suicide of Bhuvaneshwari Bhaduri, a young woman in her teens in 1926, and tries to drive home the argument that the subaltern as female, cannot be heard or read. Spivak is sometimes difficult to grasp, and is known for her obscurity. The point is made, however, in the last scene and it aptly portrays the original title of Spivak's essay: Power, Desire, Interest.

I am not a student of literary criticism, nor am I driven by the romanticism of protest. Any wrong analogies drawn, I hope, will be forgiven by those who know better.

Didn't you enjoy Amar Pal's mellifluous voice? [starts at 3:00]

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