Postcolonial theory has become enormously influential as a framework for understanding the Global South. It is also a school of thought popular because of its rejection of the supposedly universalizing categories of the Enlightenment. In this devastating critique, mounted on behalf of the radical Enlightenment tradition, Vivek Chibber offers the most comprehensive response yet to postcolonial theory. Focusing on the hugely popular Subaltern Studies project, Chibber shows that its foundational arguments are based on a series of analytical and historical misapprehensions. He demonstrates that it is possible to affirm a universalizing theory without succumbing to Eurocentrism or reductionism.
Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital promises to be a historical milestone in contemporary social theory.
Paperback, 320 pages
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His argument about real and formal subsumption doesn't actually contradict anything Chibber argues in his book. What is presented as a criticism of Chibber actually works as an extension (or at most, a small modification) of his argument. Chibber argues, contra Lowe, Roediger, and Esch, that abstract labor does not mean homogenized labor. He also argues that Guha is wrong to say that capital didn't universalize in India, because the things Guha says it failed to do there are also things it failed to do in Europe, where no one would argue it failed to universalize. Taylor responds that Chibber doesn't see the importance of the difference between formal and real subsumption of labor, and that abstract labor is produced only when the latter has been accomplished. He also says in the colonies that formal subsumption tended to predominate, which means that the universalization of capital took place unevenly.