The political impetus provided by the establishment of State Socialism, first in USSR and then in China provided the crucial reinforcement needed for the spine of a global anti-imperialist wave which witnessed the liberation of Vietnam, the spread of revolutionary energies into Cuba, the decolonization of much of Africa and the cementing of Eastern Europe into a Socialist bastion - largely enabled by economic, military and technological aid from the first two countries to have harboured Proletarian Revolutions. In such a scene, which unmistakably bears the grief of what appears to be the failure of what we now call 20th century socialism - Ahmad takes up the properly Leninist task, to begin from the beginning again! Yet a beginning which is located immanently within the political and institutional moorings of criticism and literature produced in the sub-continent. From such stunted origins Ahmad attempts to bring forth some of the ways in which it may be possible to periodize these changes within the broader historiography of the Nationalist struggle and highlights the forms of inter-cultural transmission made possible by the work of transalation which were internationally coallecing into the body of literature available in English.

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In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures. New York: Verso, Sara Suleri. The Rhetoric of English India. Chicago: U of Chicago P, No price given. His criticism is always accompanied by a detailed presentation and elaboration of the significant historical events of the time. In Theory, then, is a careful Marxist rereading of "a particular political configuration of authors and positions which has surfaced in particular branches of literary theory, clustered around questions of empire, colony, migrancy, post-coloniality, and so on, as these questions have been posed from the s onwards" 3.

The book includes eight essays covering these authors and positions and a lengthy introduction in which Ahmad manages to explain the turn toward poststructuralism in the American academy against the backdrop of "essential global realit[ies]" Ahmad, however, does not hesitate occasionally to construct similarly dubious categories in order to produce unproblematized theories of nation, decolonization, immigration, or postcoloniality.

The always ambivalent status of the bourgeois academic who occupies hybrid spaces is inevitably complicit with systems of knowledge. Perhaps it is more productive Access options available:.


In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures

He is also one of the more perceptive commentators on current events and U. Ahmad corresponded with us through email to discuss the history and status of leftist publishing, the Arab Spring, and his own formation as a thinker, writer, and political activist. Can you describe the function of institutions like Verso and the New Left Review in gathering a unique constellation of social theorists? What role do you think publishing institutions like these have for a younger generation of critics and theorists who confront a more fractured media and publishing landscape?


Aijaz Ahmad




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