Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Lectures



 Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


Humanities: Asia, the West, Africa

Appropriately taught, the humanities have transformative power. Classically, the humanities within the university tradition that we follow have been literature and philosophy. The social sciences, when not completely quantitative, are also touched by the humanities method. I describe this method as an "uncoercive rearrangement of desire." I look at the implications of these convictions in today's globalized world  read more....


1) In the Indian case, I describe how a citizen proficient in a local language harnesses the humanities to train for democracy –differentiating from my positioning in the other Asian nation-states.

2) In the “western” case, I describe how a permanent resident from the global South can refuse identitarian tokenism and harness the humanities to train for reading self and world toward an auto-critical role in globality. I will differentiate my positioning in the U.S. from the various Schengen countries, the Balkans, and New Zealand.

3) In this final lecture I will discuss how a general scholar of Asian descent and U.S. residence can try to learn specific involvement patterns in the harnessing of the humanities in Africa. I will differentiate from my positioning in the various African nation-states.