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

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Debating the ‘After’ of Subaltern Studies

The exchanges between Partha Chatterjee and Dipesh Chakrabarty of the erstwhile Subaltern Studies group on the relevance of Subaltern Studies in contemporary times signify a conflicting understanding of how the “after” of Subaltern Studies is to be conceived. The divergent views on the “after” of Subaltern Studies, in turn, reflect the broader postcolonial debate, particularly on the question of the nature of the representation of the subaltern.

It has already been three decades now since Subaltern Studies first emerged to instigate a “radical intervention” in South Asian historiography. Following its debut in 1982, Subaltern Studies garnered overwhelming attention over the years from adherents and critics alike. The interest surrounding Subaltern Studies pertained to a range of issues implicated in its historiographical intervention. From the notion of subalternity, to the political and larger issue of the project of modernity in India, Subaltern Studies probed and posed provocative questions stretching the borders of prevailing understanding. The questions raised by Subaltern Studies have continued to provoke critical interventions even after the formal disbanding of the Subaltern Studies group in 2008. It is against this backdrop that the exchange between two prominent members of the erstwhile group—Partha Chatterjee and Dipesh Chakrabarty—on the question of the relevance of Subaltern Studies in contemporary times assumes a matter of significant interest.

What is the exchange on the question of the “after” of Subaltern Studies all about? How are the modes of departure envisaged? How does one make sense of the talks about the “after” of Subaltern Studies in relation to the Subaltern Studies project itself? To put the exchange and the questions into perspective, it is worthwhile to first recapitulate the conceptual scheme of
Subaltern Studies.

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Updated On : 19th Jul, 2019
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