Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Theory as politics - SHELLEY WALIA

An engaging, participatory involvement with theory can make a difference in society.

A formidable history stares us in the face; worlds in collision necessitate the upsurge of `an absolute truth'.

TO be or not to be a theory specialist. That is the principle concern of a world ridden by problems of subjectivity, of degradation of human labour and an ever-growing chasm between the elite and the poor. One wonders if one can really reject the schools of post-structuralism or, for that matter, any of the "postist" ways of looking at the world, Western or the Third World. The rejection of totalisation, of objectivity, of the singular power of master narratives, has at least lent an impetus to students of cultural theory to face up to the problematic nature of geographical space, of capitalist strategies of hegemony and of the deconstruction of the human subject, not forgetting the underlying concepts of slippage or absence that enables a reader to grasp the importance of what remains unsaid more than what is said. Emancipatory politics, combined with the rejection of the notion of the "centre, origin or the end" initiated a revolutionary fervour in the minds of the students of cultural studies. But what seemed to be steeped in radical critique gave way to political apathy. The spark of theory slowly died out, only to be rekindled by those who saw the reality of a civilisation literally under fire and where the conspicuous return of the repressed demanded the politics of recognition. more...


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