chapter  30
13 Pages

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak was born in 1942 in Calcutta in Bengal. She completed her Bachelors’ degree at the Presidency College of Calcutta with first-class honours in English, before moving to the United States in 1961 to take a Masters’ degree at Cornell University. After a one-year fellowship at Cambridge University in England, Spivak took an instructor’s position in Iowa while completing her doctoral dissertation at Cornell in 1967. Her dissertation was focused on the Irish poet W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) and was supervised by the literary critic Paul de Man (1919-83). Before arriving at Columbia in 1992, Spivak taught at several US universities. She has received numerous academic awards and has held visiting university appointments all over the world since the late 1970s. She is Director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society and currently holds the Avalon Foundation Professorship of the Humanities at Columbia University. Born in India to solid middle-class parents, Spivak belongs to the first

generation of Indian intellectuals after independence, or what Salman Rushdie has referred to as The Midnight Children. She specializes in nineteenth and twentieth-century literature, Marxism, feminism, deconstruction, poststructuralism, postcolonialism and globalization and has been a member of the Subaltern Studies Group. She has sustained a critical engagement with the intellectual tradition represented by the writings of Freud, Lacan, Marx, Derrida and Foucault and has been crucial in transforming and politicizing feminist and poststructuralist critiques of psychoanalysis and Marxist thought. Her role as a postcolonial critic and feminist cannot be overestimated and it is in this capacity that her direct influence on the field of international relations has been most evident.