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Strategic essentialism, a major concept in postcolonial theory was introduced by the Indian literary critic and theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. It refers to a strategy that nationalities, ethnic groups or minority groups can use to present themselves. While strong differences may exist between members of these groups, and amongst themselves they engage in continuous debates, it is sometimes advantageous for them to temporarily 'essentialize' themselves and bring forward their group identity in a simplified way to achieve certain goals.
Spivak has said since first introducing the term that she is unhappy with the ways it has been taken up and used. In interviews, she has disavowed the term, although she has not completely deserted the concept itself.
- Glossary of Key Terms in the Work of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak by Michael Kinburn
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