work and essays have conspired against blogging, and terrible neglect has ensued. But I hope you’ll forgive me, especially when I give you a small taste of what I have been forcefed in the past week:
But surely the discursive proliferation from the refiguration of history — or, as Peter de Bolla puts it, the ‘disfiguration’ of what is given us as history — that this perspective demands cannot but have discrepant politics.
For just as historiography’s shifting constructions (in spite of essentialisms) of India reveal historical writings as a differentiated political discourse, the disavowal of foundational histories also cannot but function as variant political practices.
Why are cultural theorists so often seized by a conviction that they must dress their insights up in such bombast? could it be a desperate bid for profundity? a concern that without linguistic frippery, the insight in question is, after all, not so very much of an insight? Please correct me if I’m wrong, but is this paragraph not broadly saying that Indian history can be written in many ways, and that demanding alternative histories has its political implications, too?
I often complain about this to anyone who will listen: that so often I am forced to read books that are atrociously written, but which nonetheless contain important information that I need (say, a book or thesis containing rare primary research) or arguments that I must engage with (say, theories of nationalism). Why can’t people just write clearly? Don’t people want their work to be read, their thoughts to be understood, without frustration, rage or quiet despair? Is it not a worthy dictum to live and be an academic by: that one should not merely write to be understood, but write so that one cannot be misunderstood?
While the Subaltern Studies scholars see themselves targeting and disrupting the colonialist and nationalist wills directly and recovering the subaltern consciousness, the postcolonial perspective of the emerging historiography seeks to disclose the archaeology of knowledge and analyze the sedimentation of academic disciplines and institutions in power. Although both ultimately aim critical reflections upon discursive formations, the emphasis is clearly different.