Relocating subalternity: scattered speculations on the conundrum of a concept

de Jong, Sara and Mascat, Jamila M. H. (2016). Relocating subalternity: scattered speculations on the conundrum of a concept. Cultural Studies, 30(5) pp. 717–729.



This article introduces the special issue ‘Relocating Subalternity: Scattered Speculations on the Conundrum of a Concept’, in which we take Spivak’s particular invocation of (gendered) subalternity and its scholarly reception as a point of departure to confront the ‘foreclosure’ of subalternity. While the gesture of (re)locating inevitably triggers a tense dialectic between the attempt to define contingent empirical loci and subalternity’s resistance to be empirically circumscribed, we suggest that relocating the subaltern from her (non)place may provide constructive avenues for performing a productive ‘ab-use’ of the notion of subalternity. The engagement with the notion of subalternity that this issue encourages suggests that one should claim the heuristic epistemological and political value of the category of subalternity against every conceptual attempt to dilute its aporetic specificity, as well as against any simplistic effort to shorten the distances between the subaltern and its possible interlocutors in the name of too-easy transnational alliances.

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