Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

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Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Gayatri Spivak on Subversive Festival.jpg
Born (1942-02-24) 24 February 1942 (age 74)
Calcutta, British Raj
Alma mater University of Calcutta
Cornell University
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Marxism, deconstruction
Main interests
Literary criticism, feminism, Marxism, postcolonialism
Notable ideas
Strategic essentialism, the Subaltern, the Other

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Bengali: গায়ত্রী চক্রবর্তী স্পিভাক, born 24 February 1942) is an Indian scholar, literary theorist, and feminist critic.[1] She is University Professor at Columbia University, where she is a founding member of Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.[2]

Considered "one of the most influential postcolonial intellectuals", Spivak is best known for her essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?," and for her translation of and introduction to Jacques Derrida's De la grammatologie.[3] In 2012, Spivak was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy for being "a critical theorist and educator speaking for the humanities against intellectual colonialism in relation to the globalized world."[4][5][6] In 2013, she received the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award given by the Republic of India.[7]


Spivak was born Gayatri Chakravorty in Calcutta, India, to Pares Chandra and Sivani Chakravorty.[8] Spivak's great grandfather Pratap Chandra Majumdar had been Sri Ramakrishna’s doctor. Her father Paresh Chandra Chakrabarti was "initiated (given diksha)" by Sri Sarada Devi, and her mother Sivani Chakrabarti, by Swami Shivananda.[9] After completing her secondary education at St. John's Diocesan Girls' Higher Secondary School, Spivak attended Presidency College, Kolkata under the University of Calcutta, from which she graduated in 1959.[8] Spivak attended Cornell University, where she completed her MA in English and was one of the first women to be elected to membership in the Telluride House.[10] She continued to pursue her PhD in comparative literature from Cornell while also teaching at the University of Iowa.[8] Her dissertation, advised by Paul de Man, was on W.B. Yeats and titled Myself Must I Remake: The Life and Poetry of W.B. Yeats.[8]

In March 2007, Spivak became a University Professor at Columbia University, making her the first woman of color to achieve the highest faculty rank in the University's 264-year history.[11][12] She has received numerous honorary degrees from universities around the world.[2][11]



  • Myself, I Must Remake: The Life and Poetry of W.B. Yeats (1974).
  • Of Grammatology (translation, with a critical introduction, of Derrida's text) (1976)
  • In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (1987).
  • Selected Subaltern Studies (edited with Ranajit Guha) (1988)
  • The Post-Colonial Critic – Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues (1990)
  • Outside in the Teaching Machine (1993).
  • The Spivak Reader (1995).
  • A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (1999).
  • Death of a Discipline (2003).
  • Other Asias (2008).
  • An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (2012).
  • Readings (2014).


  • Imaginary Maps (translation with critical introduction of three stories by Mahasweta Devi) (1994)
  • Breast Stories (translation with critical introduction of three stories by Mahasweta Devi) (1997)
  • Old Women (translation with critical introduction of two stories by Mahasweta Devi) (1999)
  • Song for Kali: A Cycle (translation with introduction of story by Ramproshad Sen) (2000)
  • Chotti Munda and His Arrow (translation with critical introduction of the novel by Mahasweta Devi) (2002)
  • Red Thread (forthcoming)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Spivak, Gayatri." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak". Department of English and Comparative Literature. Columbia University in the City of New York. Retrieved March 22, 2016. 
  3. ^ Morton, Stephen (2010). Simons, Jon, ed. From Agamben To Zizek Contemporary Critical Theorists. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-7486-3973-1. 
  4. ^ "The Kyoto Prize / Laureates / Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak". Inamori Foundation. Inamori Foundation. Retrieved 19 April 2016. A Critical Theorist and Educator Speaking for the Humanities Against Intellectual Colonialism in Relation to the Globalized World. 
  5. ^ "Columbia University Professor Gayatri Spivak Selected as 2012 Kyoto Prize Laureate in Arts and Philosophy". Kyoto Symposium Organization. Kyoto Prize USA. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  6. ^ "Professor Gayatri Spivak Selected as 2012 Kyoto Prize Laureate in Arts and Philosophy". Columbia News. Columbia University. Retrieved 19 April 2016. Known as the “Nobel of the arts,” the Kyoto Prize is an international award presented annually to individuals who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind in categories of advanced technology, basic sciences and arts and philosophy. 
  7. ^ "Padma Awards Announced". Ministry of Home Affairs (India). 25 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d Landry, Donna; MacLean, Gerald, eds. (1996). "Reading Spivak". The Spivak Reader. New York: Routledge. pp. 1–4. ISBN 0415910013. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  9. ^ Das, Soumitra; Basu, Anasuya; Basu, Jayanta (17 June 2012). "Damning evidence of books". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  10. ^ Sanders, Mark (2006). Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Live Theory. A&C Black. pp. 4–5. ISBN 9780826463180. 
  11. ^ a b "Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Awarded Honorary Degree at Yale". Yale University: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Yale University. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  12. ^ Lahiri, Bulan (6 February 2011). "Speaking to Spivak". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 7 February 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Chakravorty Spivak, Gayatri; Landry, Donna; MacLean, Gerald M. (1996). The Spivak Reader: Selected Works. Routledge. 
  • Spivak, Gayatri (1997). ""In a Word": interview". In Nicholson, Linda. The Second Wave: a Reader in Feminist Theory. Ellen Rooney. New York: Routledge. pp. 356–378. ISBN 9780415917612. 
  • Milevska, Suzana (January 2005). "Resistance That Cannot be Recognised as Such: Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak". n.paradoxa: International Feminist Art Journal. 15: 6–12. 
  • Iuliano, Fiorenzo (2012). Altri mondi, altre parole. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak tra decostruzione e impegno militante (in Italian). OmbreCorte. ISBN 9788897522362. 

External links[edit]

Template:Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy — Thought and Ethics