Concept of Subaltern and Subaltern Studies
Dr. Abhishek Gopal* 'Subaltern' originally is a term for subordinates in military hierarchies which is elaborated in the work of Antonio Gramsci to refer to groups who are outside the established structure of political representation. Subaltern was first used in a nonmilitary sense by Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Some believe that he used the term as a synonyms for proletariat, possibly as a codeword in order to get his writings past prison censors, while others believe his usage to be more nuanced and less clear cut (Morton, Stephen). It has also been emphasised that the term "subaltern" is an allusion to the work of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1881-1937) which literally, refers to any person or group of inferior rank and station, whether because of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion. The term 'subaltern' is used in post-colonial theory. The exact meaning of the term in current philosophical and critical usage is disputed. Some thinkers use it in a general sense to refer to marginalized groups and the lower classes – a person rendered without agency by his or her social status (Young, Robert J.C., 2003). Others such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak use it in a more specific sense. She argues that 'subaltern' is not just a classy word for oppressed, for others, for somebody who's not getting a piece of the pie... In post-colonial terms, everything that has limited or no access to the cultural imperialism is Subaltern – a space of difference. Now who would say that's just the oppressed? The working class is oppressed. It's not subaltern...Many people want to claim subalternity. They are the least interesting and the most dangerous. I mean, just by being a discriminated – against a minority on the university campus, they don't need the word 'Subaltern...'. They should see what the mechanics of discrimination are. They are within the hegemonic discourse wanting a piece of the pie and not being...
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