Spivak, Death of a Discipline (Dnyanada)
Death Of a discipline
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Columbia University Press, 2003.
These are three lectures delivered by Gayatri Spivak in the University of California, Irvine under the auspices of the Critical Theory Institute. Spivak’s concerns are three fold;
The three essays deal with the issues relating to the problematic and politics of the disciplines making them inefficient to understand and compare the cross- cultural realities. She argues that the disciplines such as Comparative Literature founded on inter-European hospitality, as area studies had been spawned by interregional vigilance. Area Studies departments in the US Universities were federally funded by the title VI and title VIII grants which were distributed in the wake of the cold war.
As the disciplines themselves get situated within the larger political framework, the possibilities of the “knowledge production” get punctuated by the concerns of that politics. Spivak argues not for the politics of hostility but rather towards a politics of friendship that has potentials to shape the knowledge production within the context of these disciplines.
The three lectures delivered by Spivakk are titled
1. Crossing Borders
Spivak argues that the instruction of axiology is disappearing in the Universities and at times it gets taught in an implicit way. For example the marked erasure of any Marxist critique of capitalism from the syllabi of any business school.
In the first lecture, Spivak sets the stage for the argument demonstrating how the disciplines frame the discourse. She argues that, “ In order to reclaim the role of teaching literature as training the imagination- the great inbuilt instrument of othering-, we may, if we work as hard as old fashioned Comp. Lit. is known to be capable of doing, come close to the irreducible work of translation, not from language to language but from body to ethical semiosis, that incessant shuttle that is a ‘life’.”
Spivak pursues this argument as she claims that the “Comparative literature and Area studies can work together in the fostering not only national literatures of the global south but also of the writings of countless indigenous languages in the world that were programmed to vanish when the maps were made.”
By looking at the languages and the politics of naming and erasure of those languages Spivak tries to contextualize the politics of globalization. The other two essays deal with the comprehension of the collectivities in the post-structuralist context. Is it possible to understand communities or we have to develop a more comprehensive notion of planetarity that can offer critical insights into the formations of transnational linkages in the context of globalization.
I found this text extremely relevant in order to frame the context of postcolonial understanding of the Bollywood films. As the production and consumption of Bollywood software involves global and virtual locales.
Spivak’s essays inspire to frame the lens to look at the possibility of politics of friendship between film studies and area studies.