A Spivakian Reading of Alex Haley’s Roots

Maryam Esmikhani, Behzad Pourqarib

Abstract


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.

 


Keywords


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

Full Text:

PDF

References


Alvin F. Poussaint. (2000). The Self-Image of the Negro American. New York: Penguin. 1965.

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. Post-colonial Studies: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge.

---. (2002). The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

Athey, Stephanie. (1999). Poisonous Roots and the New World Blues: Rereading Seventies Narration and Nation in Alex Haley and Gayl Jones. Narrative: Multiculturalism and Narrative, Vol.7, No.2, (May), pp: 169-193. PDF http://www.jstor.org/stable

Clack, George. (2005). Outline of U.S History. U.S Department of State. Bureau of International Information Programs. PDF. http://usinfo.state.gov/

Gonzales, Doreen. (1994). Alex Haley: Author of Roots. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1994.

Gramsci, Antonio. (2004). Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. Trans. and ed. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. Chennai: Orient Longman.

Haley, Alex. (2007). Roots: The Saga of an American Family. NY: Vanguard.

Balon, R.E. (1978). The Impact of Roots on a Racially Heterogeneous Southern Community. J of Broadcasting, 299-307.

McAfee, R. Preston, and John McMillan. (1989). “Government Procurement and International Trade.” Journal of International Economics 26.3: 291-308.

Sharp, J. Geographies. (2008). Of Postcolonialism. London: SAGE Publications.

Spivak, Gayatri. (1988). “Can the subaltern speak?” Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 271–313

---. (1989). “In Other Words: Essay in Cultural Politics.” 1981. New Yourk. Penguin.

---. (1996). “Reading Spivak”. The Spivak reader: selected works of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Routledge. pp. 1–4.

Tyson, Lois. (2006). Critical Theory Today, A User- Friendly Guide. 2th ed. New York: Routledge.

Young, Robert. (2001). Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell Publisher Inc.




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

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2019 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.