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Centrifugal Logics: Eagleton and Spivak on the Place of 'Place' in Postcolonial Theory

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In this paper, I contest the analytic relevance of the term 'eurocentrism' to the contemporary phenomenon of globalisation by examining a distinction between 'place' and 'space'. The clash of these two concepts is explored in a controversial review of Gayatri Spivak's latest book by Terry Eagleton. I argue that Eagleton's understanding of Marxist theory implies an intellectual placed at the centre of a sphere of cognitive sovereignty, and that his critique of Spivak consists in suggesting that, by removing herself from this centre, she has rendered her own discourse unintelligible. In contrast, Spivak, as (in part) a poststructuralist, emphasises space over place. I discuss the gains and losses – as well as the dangers – involved in such an emphasis, and conclude by insisting that poststructuralism cannot be a universally applicable meta-theory, but is in fact ideally suited to attesting to the place in which it finds itself.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-05-01

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