Guha and Spivak

The two post-colonialist theorists Guha and Spivak mainly focus on the subalterns  and their representation in the history of the  imperial India. Subaltern is referred to the oppressed groups within society: women, proletarians…etc. But Spivak discusses it from another angle and says it  doesn’t refer only to the social class of the oppressed groups, but also to the deprivation of the access to imperialist culture in general. 

In Prose of Counter Insurgency,  Guha starts his discussion mentioning that whenever peasants rebelled, it was considered as a violation of the imperialist codes imposed upon them: law, religion and tradition. So, this first paragraph gives a whole overview of the isses that’ll be discussed in the article afterwards. The author then gives examples of insurgency of peasant and explains it as:” Insurgency, in other words, was a motivated and conscious undertaking on the part of the rural masses” (46).  

Regarding Historiography and how it represented the rebels’ consciousness, it “has been content to deal with the peasant rebel merely as an empirical person or member of a class, but not as an entity whose will and reason constituted the praxis called rebellion” (46). Therefore, the peasant rebel wasn’t viewed in Historiography as” the conscious subject of his own history”.

This is how Guha ends up his essay showing that Historiography is subjective and written from an imperialist perspective and all what is written is counted as true. (And ofcourse, needless to the say that insurgence is viewed from a different way by dominants).

 All the points that Guha discussed regarding insurgency of groups without voice in history can be applied on women who belong to subaltern group. Spivak discussed this issues in her essay Subaltern Studies:  Deconstructing Historiography where women in Indian society was oppressed and deprived of leadership within patriarchal society. Besides, Historians excluded women as subjects, just as the peasant insurgents. Women, are referred to as people without voices, because as we saw in Guha’s article he says whatever is written in History is regarded as true, but what about silence? What if these silent individuals could speak?  Would they be able to change History? I think so.

Spivak mentions that women are subordinated to men under the patriarchal power which eliminates their own identity:” the figure of woman moving from clan to clan, and family to family, as daughter/sister and wife/mother, syntaxes patriarchal continuity even as she is herself drained of proper identity” (220).

Here I attach an article which talks about  brutal violence  committed against female protestors during the Egyptian Revolution, January 2011. And I wonder would historians mention it when they write about this Revolution? I don’t think so. Not only because they are women(subaltern: according to society), but also the same three codes would prevent him/her from mentioning it: religion, law and tradition.

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