Study Guide

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak - Spivak vs. Butler

Spivak vs. Butler

We've heard through the grapevine that Spivak called even the great, game-changing gender theorist Judith Butler out in a moment of weakness. (See "Gossip" for the full scoop.) In Who Sings the Nation State?, a book based on conversations between the two theorists, Spivak makes it clear that she's none too impressed with Butler's having forgotten the word for "Partition" (as in, the Partition of India).

The two fierce feminists are too friendly, we sense, for this lapse to blossom into an out-and-out conflict, let alone a theory war. Still, you can just about feel Spivak's irritation seeping out from the page when Butler slips up. "Carry on," she says, giving Butler (condescending) permission to go on with what she's been saying about Hannah Arendt… all while implying, Why should Arendt's work matter more than the Partition of India?

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