Imaginary Maps: Three Stories

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Psychology Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 213 pages
Imaginary Maps presents three stories from noted Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi in conjunction with readings of these tales by famed cultural and literary critic, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Weaving history, myth and current political realities, these stories explore troubling motifs in contemporary Indian life through the figures and narratives of indigenous tribes in India. At once delicate and violent, Devi's stories map the experiences of the "tribals" and tribal life under decolonization. In "The Hunt," "Douloti the Bountiful" and the deftly wrought allegory of tribal agony "Pterodactyl, Pirtha, and Puran Sahay," Ms. Devi links the specific fate of tribals in India to that of marginalized peoples everywhere.

Gayatri Spivak's readings of these stories connect the necessary "power lines" within them, not only between local and international structures of power (patriarchy, nationalisms, late capitalism), but also to the university.

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Imaginary maps

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The author of several novels, Devi is best known in India, especially in her native Bengal (Bangladesh). In this collection of three powerful stories, she exposes the conditions of tribal peoples in ... Read full review

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User Review  - Leigha - Goodreads

"how much responsibility can a person who had nothing to eat today take to stop separatism and communalism all over India" - could not be more true. Best line in the whole book. Read full review

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About the author (1995)

Mahasweta Devi was born in what is now in Bangladesh on January 14, 1926. She received a B.A. in English from Vishvabharati University and an M.A. in English from Calcutta University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a journalist and an English professor. During her lifetime, she wrote almost 100 novels and over 20 short story collections, primarily written in Bengali. Her first book, Jhansi'r Rani (The Queen of Jhansi), was published in 1956. Her other novels included Mother of 1084 and The Occupation of the Forest. She was the author behind the Hindi films Rudaali and Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa. She was also an activist who immersed herself in the lives of India's poor and marginalized as she chronicled their lives in fiction. In 1997, she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for her writing and activism on behalf of tribal communities. She died from a heart attack and multiple organ failure on July 28, 2016 at the age of 90.

Born in Calcutta, Spivak attended the University of Calcutta and Cornell University, where she studied with Paul de Man and completed a Ph.D. in comparative literature (1967). She has since taught at a number of academic institutions worldwide, most recently at Columbia University. Her critical interests are wide-ranging: she has written on literature, film, Marxism, feminism, deconstruction, historiography, psychoanalysis, colonial discourse and postcolonialism, translation, and pedagogy East and West. She argues forcefully that these disciplinary and theoretical categories must each be articulated in ways that do not "interrupt" each other, bringing them to "crisis." Spivak's own work is resistant to any easy categorization. Her first book, Myself I Must Remake: Life and Poetry of W. B. Yeats (1974), did not have the impact of her second publication, the 1976 translation and long foreword to deconstructive philosopher Jacques Derrida's (see Vol. 4) De la grammatologie (Of Grammatology), which established her as a theorist of note. Since then Spivak has concentrated on examining deconstruction and postcolonialism, and its implications for feminist and Marxist theory. She engages not so much the specifics of colonial rule as the forms that neocolonialism currently assumes, both in the intellectual exchanges of the First World academy and in the socioeconomic traffic between the industrialized and developing nations. In the last decade, Spivak has been associated with revisionist, post-Marxist historians who have sought to challenge the elitist presuppositions of South Asian history, whether colonial or nationalist. Her contributions include theoretical essays and translations of the Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi. Most recently, Spivak has published essays on translation and more translations of Mahasweta Devi's stories. She has also given a number of important interviews on political and theoretical issues, many of which have been collected in The Post-Colonial Critic (1990).

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