To read

09.2017 #2



Approaching the 16th anniversary of September-11 attacks, the next meeting will focus on postcolonial ideas and subjectivity in relation to what Vivek Chibber calls the Specter of Capital. The book (Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital) received enormous attention after its publication in 2013 and was supported by Chomsky and Zizek. However, the book criticizes postcolonial theory as represented by the Subaltern Studies school. Gayatri Spivak wrote a review of the book that was published in Cambridge Review of International Affairs to which Chibber replied in the same journal.

In the previous meeting, we focused on post 9-11 issues in the west especially in the United States in regard to gender with rising nationalism and homonationalism in LGTBIQ communities. In “Mapping US Homonormativities” Jasbir K. Puar focused on the harms that were caused by nationalism to these geographies. She concludes:

“…the ‘gains’ achieved for LGBTIQ subjects— media, kinship (gay marriage, adoption), legality (sodomy), consumption (gay and lesbian tourism), must be read within the context of war on terror, the USA PATRIOT Act, the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, and unimpeded US imperialist expansion, as conservative victories at best, if at all.”

Aside from their work on “Selected Subaltern Studies” book, both Spivak and Chibber have worked on a critique of postcolonial theory from two different points (Spivak’s A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, and Chibber’s Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital). Spivak has introduced the “strategic essentialism” a major concept in postcolonial theory that minority groups use as a political strategy to represent themselves in different contexts.

Alex Anderson describes the book in a review published in Los Angeles Review of Books:

Subaltern Studies rose to prominence in the 1980s and was part of a wave of postcolonial critique of an ongoing essentializing gaze used when discussing formerly colonized cultures. Chibber formulates his critique of the critique (by way of Karl Marx) through the affirmation of Enlightenment universals. He argues that we are all endowed with reason and that this is not merely a “Western” construct. It was a book that he did not want to write, as he admits in the preface, believing that there was no space in “intellectual culture” for a “serious engagement with postcolonial theory.”

“Day 156” Photo by Right to Live demo, Helsinki


Also as supplementary reading will read Ranabir Samaddar’s text in which he uses the postcolonial lens to analyse issues of subjectivity in regards to forced migration and displacement. He concludes that “rights are invisible, and we have to do what we can to recognize and protect the rights of the victims of forced migration.”


Reading materials:

  1. Vivek Chibber, Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (Chapter 1)

Supplementary Reading:

  1. Spivak’s review
  2. Ranabir Samaddar, Forced Migration: State of the Field
  3. Karl Marx’s Capital, Vol. 1, Chapter 14

Link to Download


: Monday 18.09.2017, 20:00 – 21:30

Address: Ex-club (Merimiehenkatu 36, 00150 Helsinki, Finland) Call 0417537605 to get in

Reading group meeting 01.09.2017


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If you would like to join, just come in (free and open to all, feel free to bring friends).
You don’t need to read all the materials in order to be there.
There will be no group-reading-out-load at the meeting. There will be only conversations and socializing.

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We are open to collaboration and joint projects. The reading conversations are usually carried on collectively. We are not reading the selected texts during the meetings, but focusing on the conversation about the subject. The topic of each month’s reading varies based on the collective interest. We are reading books, essays and materials in topics regarding contemporary art studies, politics, philosophy, criticism, etc.
Feel free to bring your friends.