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Who Can Save the Subaltern? Knowledge and Power in Amitav Ghosh's The Circle of Reason

Sujala Singh


In recent times, the position of the Indian writer writing in English

has undergone something of a transformation. The celebrations of

post-colonial marginality have come to be replaced by allegations of

what Graham Huggan has termed ‘strategic exoticism’.1 Even though

the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981) is

hailed as a turning-point, much contemporary criticism has tired of

Rushdie’s chutnified histories and East–West fusions. By the time

Arundhati Roy won the Booker in 1997, the 1980s era of welcoming

post-colonial ‘difference’ had been replaced by an unease that postcolonial

writers, rather than being marginal ‘others,’ had become the

shrewd profiteers of a global economy. The rhetoric of globalisation

since the mid-1990s has increasingly situated the post-colonial writer

as beneficiary (and not always an inadvertent one) of the global

market-place rather than as the under-represented, under-taught, noncanonical

‘other’ who must be studied if only under the rubric of

Fredric Jameson’s well-intentioned ‘national allegories’.

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