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Rethinking the subaltern and the question of censorship in Gramsci's Prison Notebooks

Rethinking the subaltern and the question of censorship in Gramsci's Prison Notebooks This article attempts to provide a new reading of Antonio Gramsci's concept of subaltern social groups. Through a philological analysis of Gramsci's complete Prison Notebooks, the article puts into question the widespread (mis)interpretation in subaltern studies and postcolonial literature that Gramsci developed the phrase ‘subaltern social groups’ as code for the word ‘proletariat’ in his Prison Notebooks in order to deceive prison censors. The article first demonstrates how the diffusion of the ‘subaltern censorship thesis’ has limited current interpretations of Gramsci's concept of the subaltern to strictly class terms. Then, through an exegesis of Notebook 25—the thematically organized ‘special notebook’ entitled ‘On the Margins of History. History of Subaltern Social Groups’—the article demonstrates that there is no textual evidence to support the censorship thesis. Finally, through an examination of several notes in Notebook 25, the article provides an extrapolation of Gramsci's concept of subalternity. The article shows that Gramsci's concept of the subaltern is not limited to class relations and that in fact subalternity in the Gramscian sense encompasses an intersectionality of race, class, gender, and religion. For Gramsci, subalternity is constituted through constructions of identity, otherness, and marginality that are reinforced within an ensemble of social, political, and economic relations. In contrast to the current literature, this article attempts to show that Gramsci's concept of the subaltern is more complex than often recognized and that his analysis of subalternity relates to the function of intellectuals, constructions of identity and otherness, historiography, representation, the national popular, coloniality, and political organization. Overall, the article provides avenues to rethink contemporary relations of subordination, marginality, and subalternity from a Gramscian perspective. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Postcolonial Studies Taylor & Francis

Rethinking the subaltern and the question of censorship in Gramsci's Prison Notebooks

Postcolonial Studies , Volume 14 (4): 18 – Dec 1, 2011
18 pages

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References (42)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright The Institute of Postcolonial Studies
ISSN
1466-1888
eISSN
1368-8790
DOI
10.1080/13688790.2011.641913
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article attempts to provide a new reading of Antonio Gramsci's concept of subaltern social groups. Through a philological analysis of Gramsci's complete Prison Notebooks, the article puts into question the widespread (mis)interpretation in subaltern studies and postcolonial literature that Gramsci developed the phrase ‘subaltern social groups’ as code for the word ‘proletariat’ in his Prison Notebooks in order to deceive prison censors. The article first demonstrates how the diffusion of the ‘subaltern censorship thesis’ has limited current interpretations of Gramsci's concept of the subaltern to strictly class terms. Then, through an exegesis of Notebook 25—the thematically organized ‘special notebook’ entitled ‘On the Margins of History. History of Subaltern Social Groups’—the article demonstrates that there is no textual evidence to support the censorship thesis. Finally, through an examination of several notes in Notebook 25, the article provides an extrapolation of Gramsci's concept of subalternity. The article shows that Gramsci's concept of the subaltern is not limited to class relations and that in fact subalternity in the Gramscian sense encompasses an intersectionality of race, class, gender, and religion. For Gramsci, subalternity is constituted through constructions of identity, otherness, and marginality that are reinforced within an ensemble of social, political, and economic relations. In contrast to the current literature, this article attempts to show that Gramsci's concept of the subaltern is more complex than often recognized and that his analysis of subalternity relates to the function of intellectuals, constructions of identity and otherness, historiography, representation, the national popular, coloniality, and political organization. Overall, the article provides avenues to rethink contemporary relations of subordination, marginality, and subalternity from a Gramscian perspective.

Journal

Postcolonial StudiesTaylor & Francis

Published: Dec 1, 2011

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