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.
On the occasion of what would have been Frantz Fanon's 90th birthday, we share the conclusion of his famous The Wretched of the Earth, first published in 1961, in which he implores: "Leave this Europe where they are never done talking of Man, yet murder men everywhere they find them."
By Frantz Fanon, 1961
Anti-colonialist thinker, writer and revolutionary Frantz Fanon was born 90 years ago today, on 20th July 1925. To mark the anniversary, Verso presents an extract from Jean-Paul Sartre's preface to The Wretched of the Earth, published in Fanon's final year.
At a recent talk in Crotia, Vivek Chibber discussed some of the major theoretical issues at the heart of his Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital, which has caused a storm of controversy that since its publication:
"One of the striking contradictions of postcolonial theory is that, even though it presents itself as the analytical framework of capitalist domination, it rejects the idea of a universal theory. Hence, it is in the awkward position of the acknowledgment that capitalism has been globalized, but denying that we can conceive a general theory of its functioning or its properties. This is a deep and devastating contradiction at the very heart of postcolonial theory. I will examine the sources of this dilemma and argue that the best framework for understanding capitalism remains a Marxian one, which I further defend from the accusations of weakness made by postcolonial critics."
The talk, moderated by Katarina Peović Vuković, was given at Cinema Europa, Crotia, for the 8th Subversive Film Festival, "Spaces of Emancipation: Micropolitics and Rebellions", 14th May 2015.
More from Vivek Chibber here.