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Postcolonial Hybridity and Economics

Thursday, April 29, 2010

An excerpt from my blog The Excerpt Mill quoting Eiman O. Zein-Elabdin and S. Charusheela who write about postcolonial theory and economics and thedividing walls that currently separate them as disciplines:

The strength of postcolonial theory lies in its emphasis on the problems of cultural hegemony/subalternity and identity formation, which has generated a number of key concepts that provide potentially rich applications in the realm of economy. The contributions in this volume show that the notions of orientalism, ambivalence, and transmigrancy can all be productively deployed in a critique of Economics. Even the beleaguered concept of hybridity – if understood as an indication of advanced cultural mixing and instability, instead of being dismissed as a playful, perhaps even politically irresponsible, celebration of migrancy and transnationalism – can provide a powerful resource for troubling the homogenizing epistemology of economics. A concrete example of the significance of taking on board such insights can be given by the case of post-development literature which could benefit tremendously from the more complex theoretical rendering of culture and contemporary life, and the nonessentialist understanding of subalternity offered by postcolonial theory.

Economics, on the other hand, regardless of all its ailments, affords the central concern with understanding the organization of material life. However, this organization cannot be assumed a priori as a manifestation of a universal economic truth.  A postcolonial reappropriation may dispose of these elements and reconceptualize class relations on the basis of their specific, indeterminate contemporary formations, with no presumption of a particular historical trajectory.

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