The subaltern can dance, and so sometimes can the intellectual

Robert Warrior

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Spivak's 'Can the Subaltern Speak?' emerged in and helped shape a specific moment in the development of literary theory in the US, and it continues to challenge Native American studies in significant ways. Spivak captures in Gramscian terms the dilemma that scholars and intellectuals from the colonized world face in positing their work as engaging in meaningful change of the conditions of colonization. Her reflexive approach becomes most meaningful for Native studies when the indigenous world is understood as featuring two forms of subalternity, one focused on economic depravation, the other more focused on the maintenance of the social and cultural forms of traditional cultural practitioners. The conclusion focuses on one place where intellectuals meet up with both these forms of subalternity, an Osage dance society. This is an example of one setting where subalterns and intellectuals can, in fact, meet each other and communicate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Native American studies
  • Spivak
  • dance
  • indigenous
  • intellectuals
  • subaltern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology


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