Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Spring 1997

Volume 23 Issue 3
    • 431Homi Bhabha
    • For one who had played a modest role in mothering this very “othering,” I was not about to turn Medea, but there was something about the regnant and resistant orthodoxy of the other that I wanted to explore. The oblique slash that I placed in “Front Lines/Border Posts” might have been better represented in other ways—perhaps a run of ellipses. Or an expectant gap might keep open the possibility of an emergent space, a potential object of address. Or, more simply, why not a host of question marks placed at that very point where the frontline approach is articulated to the borderline condition: Front lines? Border posts? What authorizes the postfoundational humanities? Can discourses so deeply concerned with epistemological and institutional transition speak from a liminal position? How can we face the task of designating identities, specifying events, locating histories?

      Homi Bhabha is Chester D. Tripp Professor in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He is also a visiting professor at the University of London. He edited Nation and Narration (1990) and has collected his own essays in The Location of Culture (1994). He is at work on two books, one entitled A Measure for Dwelling, the other a history of vernacular cosmopolitanism.

    • 460Stephen Greenblatt
    • And, now, twenty-five years later? My profession has done its best to dismantle Kantian moral imperatives in the name of a celebration of radical difference. It has called into question the possibility of “see[ing] things as they really are”—Arnold's “light”—and, more surprisingly, challenged the “sweetness” of aesthetic order (CA, 5:165). Having eagerly divested itself of the resources of both Hebraism and Hellenism, it finds itself facing an insurgent fin-de-siècle Philistinism, entrenched in national power, and a worldwide drift toward anarchy that, for reasons at once psychological and historical, now seems to me more terrifying that alluring.2 We cannot return to Arnold, even if we wish to, but the time has come to renew on our own terms—the terms of a world in which Jews, Greeks, and Englishmen are not the only or even the principal players on the world stage—the reason, if we have one, to study literature.

      · 2. I hope it is clear that I do not regard the literary studies of the past few decades as somehow “responsible” for either Philistinism or anarchy. The charge is so absurd that I would not feel the need to acknowledge it at all, were it not for the fact that it has been repeatedly and belligerently made: destabilize the canon, the argument goes, and the next thing you know you're in Bosnia.

      See also: Stephen Greenblatt, Loudun and London  ·  Stephen Greenblatt, Marlowe, Marx, and Anti-Semitism

      Stephen Greenblatt, professor of English at Berkeley and coeditor of Representations, is currently a visiting fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He is the general editor of the Norton Shakespeare and is writing a book about literature as conjuring.

    • 482Ranajit Guha
    • There is something uncanny about empire. The entity known by that name is, in essence, mere territory. That is, a place constituted by the violence of conquest, the jurisdictions of law and ownership, the institutions of public order and use. And when all the conquistadors, consuls, and clerks are taken out, there is little left to it other than a vacancy waiting for armies and bureaucracies to fit it up once more with structures of power and designate it again as empire. As such, it requires no homes, if only because the authority, the imperium, from which it derives its form, function, and purpose, is easily sustained by forts and barracks and offices. Yet as history shows, empire is not reconciled for long to this abstracted condition. Caravans seek the shade of the camps, markets their custom in the garrisons, even religions their flock among war-weary souls. Towns and settlements grow, as empire too is seized by the urge to make a home of its territory.

      See also: Ranajit Guha, The Turn

      Ranajit Guha is the founding editor of Subaltern Studies. His publications include A Rule of Property for Bengal (1963, 1996), Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India (1983), and Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India (forthcoming).

    • 494Mary Ellen Wolf
    • JAVIER OCHOA: Is it an intuition that takes you to the border? I don't mean to get personal, but what is Mexico, why Mexico?

      MARY ELLEN WOLF: It's become all too common now to think of the border as a metaphor for fluidity, and in this way forget that it's a real place. Inscribed in my images are stories of crossings that take place in multiple registers and on a daily basis. And, yes, I find myself wanting to cross, to go away from myself and the institution that I'm identified with. Of course it would be wonderful to learn if any of the theory debated and absorbed in the university has a connection to life as it is lived, to life in the streets, and, in this case, to life in the borderlands.

      OCHOA: So you're looking for a testing ground for theory?

      WOLF: To attempt this sort of “documentary” photography is to put myself through the various phases of the act of representing in a very direct manner. When you pick up a camera and negotiate an image, the categories of us/them, he/she become so simplistic and abstract as to clearly ring false. Then you're faced with the “problem”—that dilemma that lies squarely at the center of photographic practice. How to involve yourself in another culture and space, how to dismantle your power, how to have a relationship—these problems and processes remain paradoxical, a part of the work. Secondly, what happens in the street is decidedly much more complex than what any photographer sets out to do or prove.

      See also: Masao Miyoshi, Borderless World? From Colonialism to Transnationalism and the Decline of the Nation-State

      Mary Ellen Wolf is an associate professor of French at New Mexico State University. She is the author of Eros under Glass: Psychoanalysis and Mallarmé's “Hérodiade” (1987) and various articles on North African fiction. Her first photo essay, “Stand Like a Woman,” appeared in Puerto del Sol (1995).

    • 509Henry Schwarz
    • The rhetorical turns of the preface outline a basic strategy of conceptualizing the relationship between the “Natives of Europe” and the “Inhabitants of India” within the familiar binary opposition of the other and the same. Halhed's mission to complete this incorporation encourages him to condense the distinct objects of his study into seemingly unitary essences; both languages and actors are remade in the process, and identities first conceived as unpredictable and heterogenous are consolidated into knowable unities. The peculiar inversion of the attributions of native and inhabitant in this quotation might indicate that the unsettling force of this desire is more than a mere rhetorical flourish.

      See also: Abdul R. JanMohamed, The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The Function of Racial Difference in Colonialist Literature

      Henry Schwarz is assistant professor of English at Georgetown University. He is the author of Writing Cultural History in Colonial and postcolonial India (1997) and the editor, with Richard Dienst, of Reading the Shape of the World: Toward an International Cultural Studies (1996). He has published on British Orientalism, literary theory, and cultural studies and is currently writing a book on the development of modern literature in colonial India.

    • 536Gyan Prakash
    • At the center of the dispute over shrāddha was its authorization as a rational and scientific ritual. Such a framing of the authority of Hinduism may appear peculiar, but it illustrated the extraordinary burst of conviction in the antiquity and authenticity of Hindu science that British India witnessed during the late nineteenth century. This conviction was shared by Hindu intellectuals ranging from religious reformers to practicing scientists who spoke repeatedly and obsessively of a forgotten but true religion of the ancient Hindus and contrasted it with the “irrationality” and “corruption” of contemporary Hinduism. Attributing the contemporary state of Hinduism to the loss of ancient Hindu science, these intellectuals seized on such issues as the existence of the caste system, the condition of women, and the grip of priesthood and rituals to demonstrate that irrationality and unreason had so overpowered the Hindus as to render them powerless the West.

      See also: Gyan Prakash, Edward Said in Bombay

      Gyan Prakash is associate professor in the department of history, Princeton University. He is the author of Bonded Histories: Genealogies of Labor Servitude in Colonial India (1990) and the editor of After Colonialism: Imperial Histories and Postcolonial Displacements (1995). He is currently preparing a manuscript on science and the imagination of modern India.

    • 557David Attwell
    • Early in 1878, following a skirmish during the last Frontier War in the Cape Colony, while colonial troop were preparing a mass grave for seventeen of their Xhosa enemy, they found a copy of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress on one of the bodies. The flyleaf bore the following inscription:

      Lovedale Missionary Institution. First Prize in English Reading, Junior Division, First Year, awarded to Paul Nkupiso. [Signed] James Macdonald, Lovedale, Dec., 1875.

      The discovery was reported in the settler newspaper, the Tarkastad Chronicle, which sarcastically remarked, “it is unnecessary to make any comment on the subject. The book will be kept as a standing advertisement of missionary labour.”1

      · 1. Quoted in Robert H. W. Shepherd, Lovedale, South Africa: The Story of a Century, 1841-1941 (Lovedale, 1940), p. 210; hereafter abbreviated L.

      See also: Warwick Anderson, Excremental Colonialism: Public Health and the Poetics of Pollution

      David Attwell is professor of English at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. He is the author of J. M. Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing (1993) and the editor of Coetzee's Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews (1992). He is currently working on a study of the cultural history of early black South African literature.

    • 578Françoise Vergès
    • A specter is haunting our postcolonial world, the specter of Franz Fanon. To live with Fanon's specter is to live with the memories, heritage, and genealogies of the history of decolonization and of the clinic in the colony. Much has been written about Fanon's psychology of racial relations, his views on national culture and the national bourgeoisie, and the role of women in the national struggle. Some have read Fanon as a psychoanalyst, others as one of the foremost theorists of national liberation. In this essay, I want to focus on a particular aspect of Fanon's theory, derived in part from his reading of Lacan mediated by Sartre and of Freud mediated by Marie Bonaparte: his disavowal of Antillean history and the family romance he constructed for himself. In order to get to the mechanisms of this specific disavowal, I will do a close reading of Black Skin, White Masks and particularly of the chapter “The Negro and Psychopathology.” I think that, at this moment of return to Fanon, it is especially important to return to the text and the way the argument unfolds.

      See also:  Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Critical Fanonism  ·  Edward W. Said, Representing the Colonized: Anthropology's Interlocutors

      Françoise Vergès teaches colonial and postcolonial studies at the University of Sussex. She is currently working on the history of the discourse and institutions of colonial psychiatry in Madagascar, Indochina, Algeria, and Réunion Island.

    • 596Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
    • In the contemporary crises of intellectual production it seems that we are called upon to attempt a rethinking of the geographies of intellectual labor, as several recent discussions of postcolonial theory make apparent. As a way of entering into the concerns indicated by my title(s), I propose to set up an exchange among texts and names. Generically different texts—the novel, the academic essay, the critical interview—will be invoked to this end and there will be a mix of species names and proper names in the assembled cast of characters. Out of this colloquy will emerge, it is my hope, certain preoccupations and equally significant repressions within the discourse. It will be my contention that it is not only the large events and overarching conditions—ethnic conflict, center-periphery hierarchies, migrancy, global capital—but also the lesser but more immediate issues—professional rewards and penalties, institutional sites of pressures and permissions, the disciplinary aspects of “theory”—that govern intellectual labor. To identify discriminations among the various practices within postcolonial work, I turn to some of the conditions operative in the academy (to name only the most attenuated site of theory) in India as an exemplary instance. And, finally, since a critique of this kind demands a forfeit or stake by way of the affirmative gesture, I attempt a conclusion, in effect, by suggesting how our contemporary moral dilemmas may feed into a new intellectual discipline.

      See also: Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Zeitgeist and the Literary Text: India, 1947, in Qurratulain Hyder's My Temples, Too and Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

      Rajeswari Sunder Rajan is a fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, and visiting professor at George Washington University. She is the author of Real and Imagined Women: Gender, Culture, and Postcolonialism (1993) and the editor of The Life of the Land: English Literary Studies in India (1992).

    • 617Kwame Anthony Appiah
    • My father was a Ghanaian patriot. He once published a column in the Pioneer, our local newspaper in Kumasi, under the headline “Is Ghana Worth Dying For?” and I know that his heart's answer was yes.1 But he also loved Asante, the region of Ghana where he and I both grew up, a kingdom absorbed within a British colony and, then, a region of a new multiethnic republic: a once-kingdom that he and his father also both loved and served. And, like so many African nationalists of his class and generation, he always loved an enchanting abstraction they called Africa.

      · 1. This question was first put to him by J. B. Danquah, leader of the major opposition party in Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana, in 1962. See Joseph Appiah, Joe Appiah: The Autobiography of an African Patriot (New York, 1990), p. 266. My father's column is reprinted in Appiah, Antiochus Lives Again! (Political Essays of Joe Appiah), ed. Ivor Agyeman-Duah (Kumasi, Ghana, 1992).

      See also: Kwame Anthony Appiah, Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial?  ·   Kwame Anthony Appiah, Liberalism, Individuality, and Identity

      Kwame Anthony Appiah is professor of Afro-American studies and philosophy at Harvard University. He is the author of, among other works, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (1992) and, with Amy Gutmann, Color Conscious (1996), a pair of essays on race and public policy. He is also an editor of Transition.

    • 640David J. Baker
    • In recent years, however, the islands have seen a political resurgence among Hawaiians, some of whom have organized for ea (sovereignty) and are insisting that the lands that were taken from them, as well as a measure of self-government, be restored. On the morning of 17 January, speakers from Ka Lāhui Hawai'i, the sovereignty group staging this particular event, “called for taking control of Hawaiian Homes lands [set aside for Hawaiians by Congress in 1921 and administered by the state of Hawai'i], former government and crown lands, all U.S. Military bases, and certain properties owned by missionary families and sugar companies (“OR,” p. A1). And some of the rhetoric the crowd heard on this day was quite unlike Lili'uokalani's balanced legal periods. “I am not an American,” declared Haunani-Kay Trask of Ka Lāhui. “We are not American. Say it in your heart. Say it in your sleep. We will never forget what the Americans have done to us—never, never, never. The Americans, my people, are our enemies” (“OR,” p. A6).

      See also:  Walter Benn Michaels, The No-Drop Rule

      David J. Baker is associate professor of English at the University of Hawai'i, Manoa. He is the author of Between Nations: Shakespeare, Spenser, Marvell, and the Question of Britain (forthcoming).

    • 661Saree Makdisi
    • The very center of Beirut is today a wasteland. For thousands of square meters extending from Martyrs' Square little remains of the heart of this ancient city. Several adjoining areas are made up of a patchwork of buildings slated for recuperation and of naked sites where buildings or souks—long since bulldozed or demolished—once stood. Today a bold new rebuilding project is underway, one that, under the aegis of a single company (Solidere), promises to bring new life to the center of the city; indeed, the company's slogan is Beirut—An Ancient City for the Future. Ironically, though, in the months since reconstruction officially began in earnest (summer 1994), more buildings have been demolished than in almost twenty years of artillery bombardment and house-to-house combat.

      See also: Saree Makdisi, The Empire Renarrated: "Season of Migration to the North" and the Reinvention of the Present  ·  Saree Makdisi, The Architecture of Erasure

      Saree Makdisi is an assistant professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Universal Empire: Romanticism and the Culture of Modernization (forthcoming). He has also been writing a series of essays, including this one, on the politics of culture in the contemporary Arab world.