ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Towards a Theory of Native Informant

A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of The Vanishing Present by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; Seagull Books, Calcutta, 1999; pp 449, Rs 695.

The text is yet another challenging in tervention by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the world’s leading critic, theorist and feminist intellectual. This text is a dense weaving of interdisciplinary and intertextual threads (in spite of the modest apology of the author in the preface) addressing itself to philosophers, feminists, scholars of postcolonial and cultural studies and the so-called ‘native informants’ of the academia and of the ethnographers field. The avowed objective of this text is ‘to track the figure of the native informant through various practices’ through “a range of philosophical presuppositions, historical excavations, and literary representations of the dominant” (p xi). The dominant is counterposed as part of the critical project of Spivak, in terms of native informant defined and displaced within the dominant. The native informant is “a name for that mark of expulsion from the name of man – a mark crossing out the impossibility of the ethical relation” (p 6). Spivak’s attempt has been to clear out the ‘native informant’ of the ‘cluster’ of western ethnographical research/inscriptions and ‘postcolonial masquerading’. This ‘clearing out’ of the ‘native informant’ eventually has raised certain fundamental and crucial questions and opened up possibilities of alternative discourses which are perhaps marks of Spivak’s own commitment “not only to narrative and counter-narrative but also to the rendering (im)possible of (an)other narrative” (p 6).

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