Chapter

Can the Subaltern Joke? (To Open)

Christi A. Merrill

in Riddles of Belonging

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780823229550
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241064 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823229550.003.0001
Can the Subaltern Joke? (To Open)

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It is perhaps easy to imagine why this exchange has been repeated so often in the intervening years, and with such glee: here, contained in a clever, sassy quip, is a most damning critique of the uneven political and economic relationship between colonizer and colonized. Rather than assuming “civilization” to be a static, fixed entity that the British have possessed as a matter of course since time immemorial (or at least since the waning of the Roman empire) and rather than assuming that the British are necessarily in the superior position to help people in India (re)acquaint themselves — somewhat derivatively — with their own version of “civilization”, Gandhi's response points playfully to an imaginary future — mischievously conditional — with no such fixed logic of relation.

Keywords: civilization; colonized; colonizer; British; Gandhi

Chapter.  5955 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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