Thinking This Month February, 2019

Arun Gupto

Along with Comparativism and Cultural Studies, I am also going to talk about two of the key ideas by Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha which are appropriate for my presentation.

Homi Bhabha suggests that the model where cultural diversity and differences count, gives rise “to liberal notions of multiculturalism, cultural exchange or the culture of humanity” (Location of Culture 34) . . .Bhabha differentiates:

Cultural diversity is about culture as an object of knowledge. For instance, we say that it is given that there is cultural diversity in the US. Cultural difference is the process which tells us how political processes force toward differentiation and discrimination or harmony and celebration. My questions are:

  • Do you think that cultural diversity is the foundation for cultural difference or vice versa? How do they function in the US, Nepal, Pakistan, and/or India?
  • How do we include and exclude class, caste, gender in the context of cultural diversity and difference?

Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” can be appropriated to discuss the second question?

Who speaks and how his or her speech is included in social mobility, in broader national discourse? If her speech is not, she is a subaltern despite speaking philosophically, critically.  Thousands years of history of victim construction in South Asia has not assimilated such voices. The speech act, communication between addresser and addressee, is not complete. My further questions are:

  • Thus how are we socially produced, organized, and maintained in relation to power, sexuality, class, gender, and silences?
  • What is the nature of our suspicion, anger, anxiety, uncertainty, disgust toward minority, women, and marginalized in South Asia and how does literature reflect such attitudes and beliefs?

Such issues and questions can be discussed in a wider disciplinary context of comparativism.

Comparative Cultural studiesis a multicultural and interdisciplinary modality, it is an intercultural dialogue by using methodologies from various disciplines like sociology, political science, gender studies, economics, etc.  Comparativism is also teleopoiesis, a distant comparativism, “To affect the distant in a poiesis – an imaginative making . . .” (Spivak: Death of a Discipline 34), a care for language and idiom of a distance.

Finally, how do we “intend towards the other in the classrooms?” (Spivak) Thus reading the double bind of not knowing the other and yet working with friendship and hospitality?

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