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Riddles of BelongingIndia in Translation and Other Tales of Possession$
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Christi A. Merrill

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780823229550

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823229550.001.0001

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Can the Subaltern Joke? (To Open)

Can the Subaltern Joke? (To Open)

Chapter:
(p.1) Can the Subaltern Joke? (To Open)
Source:
Riddles of Belonging
Author(s):

Christi A. Merrill

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823229550.003.0001

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

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