Dipesh Chakrabarty

La storia subalterna come pensiero politico

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The aim of this essay is to extract from the history of "Subaltern Studies", the Indian series, a methodological point that may allow to see these series, for all their faults and limits, as part of a possible genealogy of the "masses" as political actors in Indian democracy. Starting with a discussion of certain related theoretical issues raised in the writings of Hayden White, such as his ideas about "sublimity", the "confusion" and innate "incomprehensibility" of the historical process, the paper situates the work of "Subaltern Studies" (and especially of Ranajit Guha, the founding editor of the series) within the history of populism in India and the more general search for a new revolutionary subject in the "third world". The question of collective agency is especially addressed within the framework of a discussion of the conceptualization of subjectivity in modern history and politics.

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