Resistance and Representations: Postcolonialism and Political Theory Revisited
Political theorists have recently begun to raise questions of postcolonialism and cross-cultural exchange, and to consider the challenges posed by non-Western texts and traditions. Among these scholars, Leigh Jenco’s work on “mobile locality” has gone the furthest in seeking a non-Eurocentric methodology and conceptual framework. With this essay, I read Jenco’s work against Gayatri Spivak’s Can the Subaltern Speak? to trace how postcolonial questions have traversed the space of a generation of thinkers and have come to be treated by political theorists on primarily epistemological terms. Through this reading, I seek to recover the place for politics and ideology in such approaches. This reading thus opens onto a series of broader questions about the tension between sites of reflection and political incitements; the subfield’s loss of a ready vocabulary for postcolonial politics; and the possibilities offered by theories of narrative for differently staging the scene of politics.
Professor Nancy Luxon joined the faculty at Minnesota after two years at the University of Chicago’s Society of Fellows. Her work in contemporary political and social theory concentrates on questions of power, authority, and truth-telling and has been published in Inquiry, Political Theory, Contemporary Political Theory, PS, and Perspectives, with work recently in Review of Politics and materiali foucaultiani. She has recently completed a book, Crisis of Authority (Cambridge UP, 2013), that considers political authority as a process in which individuals learn to author themselves, and so come to engage differently in political contest. Other interests include: psychoanalysis (theory and clinical practice); French political thought; contemporary reception of the ancient world; the adaptation of literary theories of narrative for politics; and the intersection of ethics and politics. She presently is editing a translation of Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault’s Le Désordre des Familles, along with a companion scholarly volume.