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Ways out of the Postmodern Discourse.

Modern Age 2003, Summer, 45, 3

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DURING MY RECENT WORK on Russian colonialism and its consequences, I could not but immerse myself in postmodern discourse. This discourse has irregular boundaries, somewhat like a melanoma spot on the skin: it reaches toward, and identifies itself with, feminism and women's studies; it allies itself with Michel Foucault's vision of history; it lays claim to non-Western writings; and it rejects not only Aristotle but also, and primarily (for Aristotle had been rejected earlier) Descartes and the Enlightenment. In short, it rejects all forms of essentialism, or logocentrism, whether grounded in God-created reality or in qualities of the human mind. It also discovers new territory: that of women's history and of white ethnic history, that of the bedroom and of the servants' room. It discovers marginalized literatures and other marginalized writings. While the founder of postcolonial discourse was not entirely consistent in finagling his way through the encounters with essentialism, (1) his followers have by and large eschewed it like the plague. A feature that distinguishes postmodern discourse from modernity and pre-modernity is the insistence on a discourse-without-presence, to use Jacques Derrida's expression. (2) In that regard, the trajectory from Nietzsche to Derrida has been clear and consistent. Postcolonial discourse is usually classified together with the postmodern, and indeed it probably would not have developed were it not for the "school of suspicion" out of which postmodernism sprang. The states and empires engaged in colonialism caused much damage to the colonized, especially when, as was the case with Russia, they expanded militarily into areas whose social organization and civilizational advancement were superior to those of the colonizer. Thus the attempts to study Russia and its colonies have to be laced with suspicion toward official Russian history. I was partly motivated by a sympathy toward the voiceless peoples whose history has been obliterated by the victorious imperial voices, and whose economy and culture were appropriated by the Russian conqueror in ways that, even among the misdeeds of other colonial empires, appear to be particularly heinous. In that regard, Foucault's notion of the archeology of history was particularly appealing: it was the suppressed part of history that I wanted to revive, uphold, and make present.

Ways out of the Postmodern Discourse.
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  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Published: 22 June 2003
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute Inc.
  • Print Length: 29 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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