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Can we have it both ways?

epeck's picture

I have been thinking about how Spivak refuses to simplify "Breast Giver" into a parable about India, yet how she doesn't seem to mind making "Jane Eyre"  into a story about a poor white woman achieving her goal (a rich white man).  I don't see how she can do both things - is it acceptable to make a story about an individual into a neat story about a type of individual when we share their race or background?  I actually liked the idea of "Breast Giver" as a metaphor for India's relationship with its people, but I also liked the idea that we should be careful in making people into lessons or parables.  So, how can Spivak do both with different texts...any thoughts?


rayj's picture

I think part of Spivak's work

I think part of Spivak's work is about resisting imperialist and colonial readings of non-European women or life more generally. I don't know if it is acceptable for her to reduce Jane similarly, but it is definitely a reaction against the hegemonic readings of the other and that which is not white. There is privilege that is denied to those stories that depict that which is not part of what we consider mainstream or civilized. I think a radical reclaiming of stories such as the Breast Giver as more than parable is a moment of empowerment necessary for oppressed populations.