Abolition and Annihilation

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
10:00-11:30am PDT [1:00-2:30pm EDT]

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

George F. Kneller Lecture

‘My 34-year experience of hands-on Dalit teaching shows that the ruling castes kept the so-called under-castes and out-castes and the remnants of the Austro-Asiatic tribals away from intellectual labor, indeed punished them for exercising it, required obedience, so that perception of the importance of the right to intellectual labor was millennially lost. My 55-year experience of teaching at elite universities in developed countries shows that the right to intellectual labor is not prized by student and teacher at the STEM-ridden corporatist top. Abolition of injustices is not annihilation of the mindset, of perpetrator and victim. What, then, should we do?’

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University where she teaches reading the world and democratic habit-formation. She also teaches at four Manojog Pathshalas in Birbhum, India. Professor Spivak is one of the founders of the field of postcolonial studies and leading literary critic and feminist scholar. Among her many books are Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues (1990), Outside in the Teaching Machine (1993), Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999), and An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (2012). Her best known essay ‘Can the Subaltern Speak’ (1988) is translated into several languages and remains a classic. She has 12 honorary doctorates and has been awarded the Guggenheim, the Padma Bhushan and the Kyoto Prize.

She works in view of redistribution, anti-race/caste-ism, gender equality and ecological agriculture. She believes in creating obsessions for social justice in her students, by way of utilizing the humanities beyond the disciplines.  Her main interest is in long-term effectiveness on all levels of society. Her method is to learn from mistakes.

Chair:   Sangeeta Kamat, University of Massachusetts, Amherst