Commencing with a critique of Gayatri Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, “Representation’s Coup” explores the regime of representation through a reading of Marx’s I8th Brumaire. It argues that representation has historically been the means by which the intellectual has mediated the relation of subjects to the state. Where the Savage or the Negro stand at the threshold of humanity in the developmental narrative of representation, the Subaltern is radically exterior, unavailable for identification or assimilation, and troubles the ethical self-identification of the intellectual as representative figure of the human. The chapter concludes with Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, seeing it as an allegory of the failure of identification with the racialized subaltern. The breakdown of novelistic representation in this modernist work correlates to a post-colonial crisis in the overarching regime of representation that frames it.
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