Published in 2011, Gayatri Chakravor Spivak’s An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization compiles and reconsiders two decades of her arguments about the political constitution of the aesthetic subject. The university has always claimed to hold universal knowledge, but in the wake of postcolonial critique it is clearer to those who belong to university cultures that this knowledge been spatialised from Northwestern Europe onto the rest of the world. Therefore, for Spivak, it is imperative that the institutions of culture “precomprehend their instituting culture” (p.161) before producing cultural explanations that marginalise others. Danny Butt is Research Fellow in the Research Unit in Public Cultures at the University of Melbourne. 5 years ago | 5 views. Cambridge, Mass. Spivak cautions us that that one never reaches the subaltern other until one has an intimate understanding of the mother tongue of the subject/object of study, at which point they can no longer be treated as an object in quite the same way. Review essay to appear in RUPC Working Papers series, 2015. http://public-cultures.unimelb.edu.au/. 70-83. But no equivalent term exists in non-European languages. Aesthetic Education and Lessons for Contemporary Education As noted in the previous paragraph, Spivak’s aesthetic education resides in a gendered, uncollapsed hopeless hope in globalized times. Spivak is “famously difficult”, not simply due to an attraction to the counter-intuitive, but because her work is constantly surfacing the supports of her theoretical platform. A conversation with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Politics and the Imagination. The Romantic project, in today’s gallery, remains accessible only to a certain class which habitually fails to judge the felicity of its own political-economic inheritance as the subject of history. As Spivak has noted previously, this is “not so much a universalisation as seeing one history as the inevitable telos as well as the inevitable origin and past of all men and women everywhere” (Spivak and Sharpe 2002, p. 617). Then, through synecdoche, a part of oneself that can identify as a member of a collective supports collective action as if their full interests were represented by this collective (of citizens, workers, or women, or any group organising for political ends). Spivak adopts Bateson’s description of the “double-bind” as a generalisable description of the type of tension between the vital and the institutional (or body and mind) that Kant tries to make sense of. Hardcover, US$35.00. The multicultural agenda in criticism is popularly understood as integrating and including people of colour in the canon. This review essay traces arguments running through the book that reconcile the deconstructive politics of the subject with the resurgent interest in universalist theories that position themselves in relation to global technocapitalism. The challenge of reinvigorating or renovating this power in today’s corporate university system — without simply retrieving cultural institutions’ historical role as the producer of great men in the Western tradition — is an intractable question whose dimensions Spivak’s critique illuminates. Marx’s oversight also limits the kinds of revolutionary subjects that can be thought, as Marx and Engels’ empirical assumptions about the subject were based on the default of colonial Europe, resulting in frames such as the Asiatic Mode of Production as an inevitably Eurocentric account of pre-industrialism that has limited leverage in the very social formations it sought to describe. Again, the argument holds across all forms of signification – including the visual, even though here, “in the visual, the lesson of reading is the toughest. Her well-known formula for the practice of humanities teaching is “the uncoercive rearrangement of desire”, and her commitment to this principle is evident in her invitation for us to follow her through her material, without seeking the shortest distance between two politically correct points. This longing - in response to the perceived privileging of technology, mathematics and the sciences over the humanities - for an aesthetic sensibility, is reflected in our own era, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, a leading figure of postcolonialism and the author of the foundational essay “Can the Subaltern Speak” (1988), has now contributed a significant work to the cause. In the aesthetic lineage from Kant that splits the writing and reading functions inside the individual, writers are also paradoxically their own first readers. Spivak has also commented that she started to talk about her Bengal schools once they were doing things by themselves, a conjuncture that links institutional and theoretical autonomy in realpolitik. We should learn our methods from the world with no guarantees, learning to learn from the “singular and unverifiable” (p. 2). Please see the link here for the interview with Spivak on themes from her 2013 book, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization. Such responsibility to the site of teaching is inconvenient for the writer rushing toward the more properly ‘urgent’ political manifestations of the global, but for Spivak all theoretical labor is “destined for errancy” (p.28) in the political realm. It is a skill we can call “reading”, practised with the imagination. Acknowledgements: For their contribution to this article I’d like to acknowledge the participants in Local Time’s reading group on An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization. Meanwhile, the subjective part of oneself which does not fit the category is privatised or de-prioritised in the interests of collective action. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Other people’s “cultural” defaults are viewed as external to one’s own tolerance, and the researcher of culture’s assumptions are unmodifiable by the answers. Firstly, there is a class-division in who appropriates globality and who is subject to globalisation. These colliding scales of politics are visible in various protests against the sponsorship of large scale international exhibitions, such as refugee detention centre operator Transfield Services’ sponsorship of the Biennale of Sydney in 2014. In the chapter “Imperative to Re-Imagine the Planet” radical alterity takes on many names: “Mother, Nation, God, Nature” (p. 178) — Spivak notes that some of these names are more radical than others. Kant carefully described a generic public version of the innocent Enlightenment subject who could make sense of the entire globe in their imagination: a default, immunised male citizen whose aesthetic sensibility would come to be seen as objective. 1 Spivak’s sprawling book, consisting The gap between what one needs (in a form handed down from the past) and what one can make is “filled by neither reason nor unreason yet seems irreducible” (p. 457). Spivak’s resolute literality in the reading of texts brings to mind a characteristic mode of contemporary time-based art, that of diegesis, the experience of being held through narration of a particular time and place, suspending philosophical detachment while nevertheless remaining aware of the lineaments left by historical genres. Once again the visual mode seems important to this opening: “radical alterity must be thought and must be thought through imaging” (p.97). This is "Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak - An Aesthetic Education in the Age of Globalization" by Tallinna Ülikool on Vimeo, the home for high quality… For Spivak, the term ‘writing’ describes “a place where the absence of the weaver from the web is structurally necessary” (p. 58). There is nothing particularly mystical about Spivak’s version of radical alterity, except that one’s own versions of it are not easily thinkable, as they are a name for the ground of thinking as such: “mysterious and discontinuous — an experience of the impossible” (p. 341). You know, there is a certain kind of benevolent approval which I really resist” (Spivak and Sharpe 2002 p. 623). Reading An Aesthetic Education for a month inside a gallery with a reading group of artists and critics, many were struck by Spivak’s feral indifference to professionalised forms of theoretical discourse. Diacritics, 30 (1), 2-24. She finds her most useful way to think radical alterity in the Muslim concept-metaphor of the haq, “the birthright of being able to take care of other people” (p. 294). For Gramsci, intellectual production is situated not only within a political superstructure atop an economic base, but also within epistemological (meta-psychological) constraints on engaging across differences within society. The human is born into a para-psychological “structure of responsibility” which trains the imagination for epistemological performance (aesthetic education), yet also establishes both paternal and maternal “writing” of the child in distinction to each other, bringing the constant presence of otherness. As form, value asks for figuration and disfiguration rather than empirical documentation. Reproductive heteronormativity and subjective development. Their mindset of dominance will not be shaken simply by the benevolent appropriation of translated multicultural literatures into the canon, because the “legitimising codes” of nationalism, internationalism, secularism, and culturalism that underpin the literatures of decolonisation in English are class-divided (p. 57). “The tower of Babel is our refuge.”, In essays on theory, translation, Marxism, gender, and world literature, and on writers such as Assia Djebar, J. M. Coetzee, and Rabindranath Tagore, Spivak argues for the social urgency of the humanities and renews the case for literary studies, imprisoned in the corporate university. Follow. An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization is a big, unruly book — at a recent conference Spivak joked that as a classroom teacher, she has trouble saying anything in less than fourteen weeks. The “aesthetic” in Kant’s account is not a simple thing, but “a sort of ambivalent refuge” between the creative flourishing of nature and the stern logic of philosophical reason that constitutes humanity (p.24). This has always been the case in Romanticism: “William Wordsworth’s project is deeply class-marked, […] he does not judge habit. In the broad terrain of the humanities, arts and social sciences, we must be able to think the double-bind that programs our access to the global in its specificity. Our ability to influence global forces relies upon our skill in reading the specificity of our situation and through writing and teaching in the academy and outside we present that possibility for others to share. The Kantian figuring of the aesthetic as a double-bind between a creative natural force and a structuring social order could productively be read as a crisis in that logic. However, the success of this alignment of self and collective context relies on skill in tracing the weave of forces that shape the public and private parts of political change. The artist does not simply “express” a vitalist force of creativity, but develops a never-achieved reflexive capacity to read one’s own traces as others see them, and to adjust their modes of trace-making in turn. The most proximate is the most distant, as you will see if you try to grab it exactly, in words, or, better yet, to make someone else grab it.” (p. 406). An ability to read across these divides and thus to teach and learn is the best outcome of an aesthetic education. GAYATRI CHAKRAVORTY SPIVAK Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England 2012 . He is clear about being superior to others in being a poet, unusually gifted with a too-strong imagination, capable of organizing other people’s habits.” (p. 6) We know that the simple figuring of the democratic in the gallery might be an initial provocation to think of a future world, but will not bring that world about. Reading is the mode where we take up the anonymous written inscriptions left by others in that web and make them our own. Seeing other versions of radical alterity as potentially substitutable for one’s own through the shared logic of reproductive heteronormativity becomes a critical safeguard against both benevolent neocolonialism and culturalism. 1st June 2014. Not only are we not ourselves global, the study of global movements cannot meet its object on the same scale, as we are always located in a perspective. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, An Aesthetic of Education in the Era of Globalization (Harvard University Press, 2012) For over a quarter of a century, Gayatri Spivak’s scholarship has remained at the forefront of postcolonial studies, pushing the discipline forward, asking … (2002). However, literary training can diversify what occupies this gap, to escape the default scripts of capital that aim to make us want the information-rich commodity as the gap-filler nearest to hand. Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora” In this section, I place my interpretation of her central arguments in conversation with contemporary scholars in other fields (e.g., This is Marx’s question of social productivity through the imagination of the value-form thought in the ethical. Spivak’s essays collected in the book diagnose two important challenges to those of us trying to think the broad conditions of aesthetic “globalisability”. Reading is where we make ourselves. To shift habit requires the institutionalisation and instrumentalisation of the artist/intellectual, or more accurately an ability to recognise how the intellectual is already institutionalised in our own political-economic conjuncture, as Gramsci has it. Forging a practice in the thickness of vulgar time would not come from a mastery of global time but through experience gained in a variety of local times. (Again, we must hold onto the broad sense of “writing” that exceeds the alphabetic). An aesthetic education expands both the range of scripts one’s self can be metonymically inserted into, as well as multiplying the concepts one can use to self-synechdocise. Spivak’s title makes explicit reference to the work of one of Kant’s contemporaries, Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man, which attempted to “revalorise” the aesthetic, proposing the drive for play as not so much a solution to Kant’s difficulties but as a force of power that should “naturally” overcome them. Spivak’s interest is in the textual nature of this “organic” connection, which can be figured in the literary terms metonymy and synecdoche (p. 436). Spivak has had to be good on her feet ever since since arriving in the United States in 1961, a 19-year-old woman with, as she puts it, “a tremendous amount of confidence.” Published in 2011, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization compiles and reconsiders two decades of her arguments about the political constitution of the aesthetic subject. For many years Spivak refused to discuss her teacher-training efforts in Bengal – in 2002 she noted that “if I talk about these places, first of all, I think I would get the kind of approval from your readership which I would much rather earn because of my theoretical work. For the benevolent Romantic seeking to save the world, the figure of the gendered subaltern (in, for example, the “global South”) remains inaccessible to political thought and action unless the heterogeneity of the subaltern’s context can be imagined across the gap separating the intellectual and the subaltern. To escape or transform these habits in either the other or the self is no easy task, as shifting the habit of thinking still does not reach the imagination’s will to shift habit directly. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward A History of the Vanishing Present. The poetic function, in principle, exceeds the individual, therefore it can contribute to the task of reminding us that our desires are not naturally beneficient. She teaches a precisely British heritage of criticism to channel her North American students into “thinking the other through idiomaticity”, because English is the only language in which they are “responsible”. Central to Spivak’s argument throughout the book is a theory of reading in the broad sense, literary reading in particular. Spivak’s account of the grabbing impulse is particularly distinctive when compared to neo-vitalist philosophies of emergence. As we were preparing to publish Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization, a memo from the book’s editor served for many of us as an introduction to this important new work. What Spivak sees as necessary is not simply consciousness-raising, today led by the “corporate-funded feudality of the digitally confident alterglobalists” (p. 26), but “patient epistemological care” (p. 519 n57) that can train the imagination to reimagine a specific situation. We can think of this as a secularised Christian culture of modernist rational subjectivity. How is this linked to the aestheticisation of the economy, the growth of the art market and the art education market, and the valorisation of “creativity” by speculative capital? Spivak revisits Romanticism as the European tradition that opens this possibility. 2012. Spivak reworks Marx’s “moral and psychological” efforts to think social freedom as “epistemological,” drawing on Gramsci’s detailed analysis of the relationship between class formation and subjectivation to show how these two forms of the social allow an aesthetic education to be thought in Marx’s framework. Her basic principle for social action is the ability to see another’s position as potentially substitutable for one’s own in the script of life: metonymy. These questions formed part of a site-specific enquiry the artistic collective Local Time explored at St Paul Street, a university gallery in Auckland, New Zealand, through a 24-day reading group on Spivak’s imposing and exciting An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (2011), which reconsiders two decades of Spivak’s arguments about the political constitution of the aesthetic subject. Whose knowledge? The development of subjective interiority proceeds through a grabbing “of an outside indistinguishable from an inside [which then] constitutes an inside, fit to negotiate with an outside, going back and forth and coding everything into a sign-system by the thing(s) grasped” (p. 241). The kind of alterity Spivak is thinking is not located in the individual or their culture, but is the opening to the ethical as such, and in the Romantic tradition the development of the capability to genuinely engage the other will start “at home” in the othering of the self. Parallax: Vol. Gayatri Spivak on An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization. Yet this otherness never resolves into “culture.” Spivak suggests we need to explore the cultural difference closer to home: “We must investigate and imaginatively constitute our “own” unclaimed history with the same teleopoietic delicacy that we strive for in the case of the apparently distant. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(2), 609-625. …, About & Contact | Awards | Catalogs | Conference Exhibits | eBooks | Exam Copies | News | Order | Rights | Permissions | Search | Shopping Cart | Subjects & Series, Resources for: Authors | Booksellers & Librarians | Educators | Journalists | Readers, Harvard University Press offices are located at 79 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA & 71 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BE UK, © 2020 President and Fellows of Harvard College | HUP Privacy Policy • HU Additional EEA Privacy Disclosures, Watch Professor Spivak deliver a lecture based on, deliberate destruction of documents by Trump administration officials on their way out the door, 2020 election results affirmed decades-old political divisions among the American voters frequently lumped together as “Latinos.”, God in Gotham: The Miracle of Religion in Modern Manhattan, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Is Winner of the 2012 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy. Education toward freedom can only emerge when one can abstract one’s own experience in order to connect it with others, and thus to work together on a shared political struggle. So begins An Aesthetic Education Without the grounding of haq-like responsibility, and thus to the precomprehension of an instituting culture to the political, the subaltern other remains buried under the “repetitive negotiations” of neocolonial benevolence. In this analysis Kant is not a guarantor of any kind of truth in the university or in art, but hovers as an unavoidable “discursive precursor” for these questions, for our understanding of critique is “too thoroughly determined by [him] to be able to reject [him]” and thus the need to seek “a constructive rather than disabling complicity between our position and [his]” (Spivak 1999, p. 5-6). In the chapter “How to Read a ‘Culturally Different’ Book” Spivak is anxious to demonstrate that nothing in her argument prevents the metropolitan teacher from teaching a book across gender, ethnic, and class divisions. Enlightened Western secularism is far from immune from this problematic, as it still figures this responsibility through a named Christian-heritage grounding, most commonly “science”, while Spivak is adamant that all such grounds must be dislodged in order to think other forms. These arguments provide us with methodological tools for interrogating the “globalisability” of our academic work: the co-option of social movements and the need for epistemological care; Romantic techniques of self-othering toward new collectivities; Marx’s legacy of value as form; the powerful role of affect and habit in training the intellect; an expanded theory of reading; the limits of “culture” as a diagnostic; reproductive heteronormativity as a grounding principle; attention to intergenerational gendered structures of responsibility; and finally, a fully secularised understanding of radical alterity. The importance of an aesthetic education lies in training of the imagination of the progressive bourgeoisie to understand this gap between formal figure and political structure, “to realize that ‘social movements’ are co-opted by state and elite, with different agendas, ceaselessly” (p. 519). Spivak’s most arresting move in the book is to situate Marx’s untheorised process of subjective social development in a default category of reproductive heteronormativity (RHN). An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (AEEG) has 25 essays spanning a period of 23 years and represents Spivak's cumulative retrospection on the meaning, difficulties, joys and paradoxes of teaching in the humanities focusing on the conflictual intersections of ethics, aesthetics and politics. is review essay traces arguments running through the In an “ironic affirmation” of Schiller’s impulse [“Schiller was indeed wrong […] but who is exactly right?” (p.28)], Spivak’s goal here is to both theorise and demonstrate the possibility that an aesthetic education as the “training of the imagination for epistemological performance” allows us to think the double bind of the political and the ethical. In alignment with Derrida, Spivak views reading and writing as terms that can be used for the operation of sign and trace across all media, oral, alphabetic, audio-visual, biological: production and reproduction. In this suppressing the conceptual in favour of the pragmatic, Schiller falls prey to another kind of idealism. Many of the essays in An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalizationwere written before what has come to be known as the Middle Eastern Spring of 2011, however, the analysis Gayatri Spivak offers of the post 9/11 political, economic, and cultural climate is crucial in examining the progress of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and Libya since the resistance that had been ongoing for years erupted in a series … He works with the art collective Local Time , most recently in the exhibitions Spectres of Evaluation (Footscray, 2014), If you were to live here… The 5th Auckland Triennial (Auckland, 2013) and Sarai Reader 09 (Delhi, 2013), Research Methods in Community Cultural Development – Draft Reading List, Colonial Hospitality: Rethinking Curatorial and Artistic Responsibility, New International Information Order (NIIO) Revisited: Global Algorithmic Governance and Neocolonialism, Luke Willis Thompson – 5th Auckland Triennial, Techniques of the Participant-Observer: Alex Monteith’s Visual Fieldwork. Danny Butt, Research Fellow, Research Unit in Public Cultures, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. Merely enacting the appearance of democracy or depicting its emergence or decline at a sociological level, in the manner of much “relational” art, not only fails to achieve its aims, but may even insulate artist and audience from engaging with the “real involvement in infrastructure” (p. 112-113) that would bring state democratisation about, particularly in the parts of the world which supply the cultural elite with labour and resources that underpin “creative practices”. Report. Spivak, G. C., & Sharpe, J. The protagonist of the story is a young tribal woman named Douloti, whose body is ravaged by venereal disease after being forced into prostitution to repay her father’s loan. In 2013, she received the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award given by the Republic of India. It is a profoundly ethical relationship grounded in the social world. Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (2012), a text that has been the subject of much recent critical discussion. Spivak argues that it is by learning to learn how to read the specific idiom of another’s practice that one learns the possibility of un-coerced change, and therefore Spivak will not let us position her as the source of a critical method, but presents herself as an example. But one does not play the political game by writing about it, claims Spivak, and she stages this distinction relentlessly, reminding us that the classroom is the truest test for theory’s “application”: theory is applied in the remaking of a self. The rapid growth of the university in both scale and spread in the last half-century, its financialisation and reconfiguration as an education industry, and the networked information technologies that transport its knowledge have combined to provide new conditions for education’s “globalisability”, its potential synchronisation and distribution over the globe. 428 AN AESTHETIC EDUCATION IN THE ERA OF GLOBALIZATION river's right bank stretched a verdant island some 13 miles long. In Spivak’s view we must be able to imagine a singular other metonymically, with oneself in that particular place, in order to orientate oneself toward “others” in a larger public. In the era of “globalisability”, this teaching across such intractable lines is even more imperative. Spivak's unwillingness to sacrifice the ethical in the name of the aesthetic, or to sacrifice the aesthetic in grappling with the political, makes her task formidable. Spivak, Introduction to An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization Locates aesthetic possibilities for critical agency in late capitalist, data-driven information societies in a training of the imagination, forms of reading, and the negotiation of double binds. Contrary to the default political economy of contemporary Western globalisation as technological destiny, Spivak traced the uneven development of what Echeverría called the telepolis through the colonial imagination, and showed that Kant’s aesthetic theory was our best guide to the persistence of uneven “globalisability”, even more than his political writings. Revised 9th July 2014. Cambridge, Mass. The most visible cultural intermediaries today view these politics of subjective difference as historically noteworthy but ultimately stultifying and immobilising. Aesthetic education is one of these, and as Fleming's account of a determined but ultimately insecure English faculty at UW would lead us to expect, Spivak is careful to stipulate that it is by teaching literature she hopes to lift the burden of English, not "language as an instrument of communication" (36). The aesthetic is a powerful tool here, as it “short-circuits the task of shaking up this habit of not examining [the premises of habit], perhaps” (p.6). Spivak looks to the literary canon to show that we too can still learn by the terms of the “noble failed experiment” of Romanticism, which was attempting to respond to a political-economic conjuncture somewhat like our own (p.112). Culture does not help us here. However, if we turn our attention to the use-value of creativity today, the operation of terms such as “creative city” or the “creative industries” demonstrates that even if one promotes “creativity for all”, not everyone’s creativity is equally valorised. 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Possibility of subjective development through difference ( i.e intermediaries today view these politics of development... At the University, then, but this does not disavow the value of diversity does! History of the pragmatic, Schiller falls prey to another kind of benevolent approval which i really ”. Theory of reading in the social body they seek to change visible intermediaries. ( Spivak and Sharpe 2002 p. 623 ) and Sharpe 2002 p. 623 ) various points fallen into in! Globalisability ”, this teaching across such intractable lines is even more imperative relation between and... Not fit the category is privatised or de-prioritised in the Era of Globalization by... Multicultural agenda in criticism is popularly understood as integrating and including people of colour in the academy privatised or in. By stating that “ globalisation TAKES PLACE only in capital and data 2007: p. 14 ) but. The Vanishing Present Butt, Research Unit in Public Cultures, School of Culture Society!, 609-625 our own appropriates globality and who is subject to globalisation we take up the written... Isbn: 9780674072381 ) from Amazon 's Book Store form, value asks for figuration and rather... Ethical relationship grounded in the thought of gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Harvard University Cambridge... Lacking of a theory of reading in the broad sense, literary reading in the thought of gayatri Chakravorty.. As integrating and including people of colour in the ethical is Research Fellow, Research Fellow, Unit... Theory of learning ), have thus at various points fallen into totalitarianism in the Era Globalization... Across such intractable lines is even more imperative be attended to as an impossible task ( )! Of oneself which does not think that this is not just an anthropological exercise of language for. Is not just an anthropological exercise of language learning for data extraction to publish “ back home ” the!