A Spivakian Reading of Alex Haley’s Roots

Maryam Esmikhani, Behzad Pourqarib


The research work efforts to examine the postcolonial aspects of Alex Haley’s Roots (1976) in the light of Spivakian postcolonial theories. The argument is based on post-colonial dimensions and the emphasis is put on the notions of the “Subalternity,” “Strategic Essentialism”, “Black Identity,” and “Feeling of Otherness.” These concepts used by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1942) as an Indian literary theorist, philosopher and University Professor at Columbia University,  describe the lower classes and the social groups who are at the margins of a society. In arguing the processes of the development of post-colonial studies, the concept of strategic essentialism plays an important role. The purpose of this study is to explore how Alex Haley constructs marginalized black voices as feeling of otherness in Roots. In mentioned work  Haley emphasized that African Americans which are presented as sublaterns in the discourse of White people, have a long historical background and that not all of that history is lost, as many supposed. The aim of this paper is to trace the postcolonial theories of Spivak in the work that represents the common problems of marginalized people in different situations.  In Roots, Haley depicts the ways superior class of society are suppressing and declining the rights of the lower class, and the way whites are trying to suppress blacks. It seems that in this play, by depicting the misery of African Americans, Haley is trying to say the fact that it is time that the marginalized people get a chance to speak.



Spivakian Reading, Roots, Subalternity, Strategic Essentialism, Black Identity, Feeling of Otherness

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.5n.2p.22


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