chapter  9
16 Pages

: Subjectivity and Science in Postcolonial Archaeology

ByAnia Loomba

In 1988 I returned to India after three years in England writing a doctoral dissertation on Shakespearean and other English Renaissance drama and the ways in which these works were shaped by issues of race and colonialism, both when they were written and performed in the 16th and 17th centuries and subsequently, as they became a central part of British colonial education. I had begun thinking about these issues as a student and teacher of Shakespeare in India, when I became increasingly conscious of the distance between my own interpretation of his plays and the readings offered by dominant Anglo-American critics, which were dutifully echoed by our own teachers and critics in India.1 Such readings not only distorted Renaissance history by ignoring the colonial and racial dimensions of global contact of the time, but also insisted that Shakespeare and other dramatists were pre-

senting “universal” and “humanist” viewpoints that lay above mere politics. These views, as interpreted by dominant criticism, were conservative, patriarchal, and racist. Thus, it was the task of an alternative literary criticism to both reread the “facts” of Renaissance history and to offer different readings of the literature of the period.