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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; 1 edition (18 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844679764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844679768
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 260,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


In this scrupulous and perceptive analysis, Vivek Chibber successfully shows that the 'universalizing categories of Enlightenment thought' emerge unscathed from the criticisms of postcolonial theorists. Chibber's analysis provides a very valuable account of the actual historical sociology of modern European development, of Indian peasant mobilization and activism, and much else. It is a very significant contribution. --Noam Chomsky

Vivek Chibber has written a stunning critique of postcolonial theory as represented by the Subaltern Studies school. This is a bravura performance that cannot help but shake up our intellectual and political landscape. --Robert Brenner

In this must-read book for students of comparative politics and social theory, Vivek Chibber presents a forceful challenge to the Subaltern Studies school and to postcolonial theory more broadly. This is a major contribution that is bound to reshape debate on these important issues. --Joshua Cohen

About the Author

Vivek Chibber is Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University. He has contributed to, among others, the Socialist Register, American Journal of Sociology, Boston Review and New Left Review. His book Locked in Place: State-Building and Late Industrialization in India won the 2005 Barrington Moore Book Award and was one of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles of 2004.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Rahul Patel on 12 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great - essential for anyone on the left who wants to understand Indian politics
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read 17 April 2013
By PSBarrett - Published on
Format: Paperback
Vivek Chibber's Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital is a superb and devastating critique of postcolonial studies (postmodernism applied to the global south) and an equally brilliant defense of the radical enlightenment tradition. A model of rigorous reasoning, Chibber slogs through the obscurantism of the subaltern school, distilling its core propositions and in the process systematically exposing the weak and ultimately unsustainable foundations - both logical and historical - on which it has been constructed. If the book were only a critique of postcolonial studies, on that basis alone it should be considered must reading. But it also offers a highly lucid, and indeed far more promising, approach to the study of capitalist social and economic development - one that is both universally applicable and yet attentive to the distinct experiences of the global north and the global south. For anyone interested in understanding the demise of radical thought in the academy and hoping to see it resurrected, I highly recommend this book. It is truly a tour de force.
18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Simply a masterpiece 19 Mar. 2013
By elrod enchilada - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am familiar with Chibber's work so I have been anticipating this book for some time. It did not disappoint. It is a brilliant demonstration of critical and materialist reasoning by one of the sharpest minds of our times. The argument is airtight; the evidence is conclusive. The writing is crystal clear, much like the thinking. The demolition of postcolonial or subaltern theory was well and good, but since I have little interest in those areas it was not the reason I read the book. Instead, for me, the value in the book was laying out an understanding of class, politics and history that is applicable to our times. And it may well be the most devastating demolition of evidence-light academic fads I have ever seen.

This is a book that will stand the test of time and be the benchmark for a good generation. For social theorists it is going to be mandatory reading.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Subaltern-speak 8 Jan. 2014
By James R Newlin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Bruce Robbins has a review on n+1:

The target of Chibber's polemic is not postcolonial theory as a whole, about which he says almost nothing. (Verso should have asked him to drop the portentously inaccurate title.) His target is Subaltern Studies, the field created by a group of left-wing historians of South Asia who began publishing in the early 1980s. The Subalterns--represented in Chibber's book by Ranajit Guha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Partha Chatterjee, and who also include David Arnold, Gyanendra Pandey, and Shahid Amin, among others (Gayatri Spivak is a sort of fellow traveler)--wrote from within Marxism but against what Chakrabarty called the "deep-seated, crude materialism of the `matter over mind' variety" implicitly attributed to orthodox Marxism. Crude materialism, these historians argued, did not give enough credit to the culture, consciousness, or experience of India's poorest. There was also an immediate political context that spurred the historiographic question. In the late 1960s and '70s, India's most oppressed had risen up in what came to be known as the Naxalite insurgency, and received less than full-throated support from the established Marxist parties. When Guha and Chatterjee researched peasant revolts against colonial officials and landlords or strikes in Calcutta's jute mills, they were calling attention to a resistant agency for which even the anticolonial left seemed unable or unwilling to find a proper place.

read the whole thing here.......

Five Stars 13 Oct. 2014
By Ella - Published on
Format: Paperback
Engaging, clearly written and argued critique of post-colonial theory.
11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Devastating Critique of the Subaltern School 2 April 2013
By Joseph - Published on
Format: Paperback
In the film Avengers there is a scene where the villan, Loki, faces the Hulk and does not come out well in the encounter. In irritation he puffs up his chest and shouts, "Enough! I am a God!" Hulk picks up Loki by his feet and smashes him all over the place like a rag doll and leaves him lying helpless in a pile of rubble and sniffs, "Puny God!"
Vivek Chibber does a Hulk on the Subaltern School (SS). I was a little ambivalent to the SS as I viewed it as part of the History From Below project. I liked the agenda spelt out by Ranajit Guha in the first volume and for long harbored under the illusion that this was a school that had gone astray from its own manifesto. Vivek's book exposed for me that the SS scholars actually shared the Stalinist concept of bourgeois democracy.The book has a lot more to offer, but for me this is what made the SS irrelevant in terms of having any theoretical insight to offer. I would continue to read select articles for their reportage and descriptions but nothing else.
The only danger I see is that votaries of the SS may try to dismiss and ignore this critique without engaging with it.
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