A Singular Voice: Collected Writings of Michael Sprinker - Editor (with Fred Pfeil and Modhumita Roy)
In Our Time: Empire, Politics, Culture
In his book In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures, Ahmad primarily discusses the role of theory and theorists in the movement against colonialism and imperialism. Ahmad's argument against those who uphold poststructuralism and postmodernist conceptions of material history revolves around the fact that very little has been accomplished since the advent of this brand of postcolonial inquiry. The book contains an especially polemical critique of Frederic Jameson's argument in 'Third World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism" where Ahmad attacks Jameson on the grounds that Jameson's argument is insufficiently theorized in its use of terms like "Third World" which appears to be defined purely in terms of its experience of colonialism. This in turn leads Jameson to make hasty and untenable generalizations about how all "third world literature' would necessarily function as a national allegory that according to Jameson works as resistance to a system of global postmodernism. However Ahmad in his book expresses his chagrin at how his critique of Jameson has been appropriated by Postcolonial scholars as an attack on Marxism, while Ahmad contends that he takes issue with Jameson simply because his use of Marxism in the essay on Third World Literature is not rigorous enough. The book also contains a lengthy critique of Edward Said's Orientalism which Ahmad argues reproduces the very Liberal Humanist tradition that it seeks to undermine in its selection of Western canonized texts that are critiqued for their Orientalism, as this upholds the idea that Western culture is represented in its entirety through those very texts. Furthermore Ahmad asserts that by tracing Orientalist thought all the way back to Ancient Greece it becomes unclear in Said's work whether Orientalism is a product of Colonialism, or whether Colonialism is, in fact, a product of Orientalism.