Resistance has been an important subject of debates in recent postcolonial studies. This paper discusses the problematic of resistance in Gayatri Spivak’s deconstructive-Marxist postcolonial writings by focusing on her critical concepts "the subaltern" and "strategic essentialism". It concludes that though her deconstructive-Marxist postcolonial criticism is suspicious of valorizing the constitutive effect of the colonial discourse on colonized subjectivities and debilitating their power of initiating resistance, Spivak's problematization of the colonized subjective agency in terms of imperial epistemic violence and its heterogeneity and the intellectual's positioning helps interrogate the notion of identity as independent and self-sufficient consciousness, thus exposing the danger of reproducing the imperial power structures and re-silencing the subaltern involved in the process of postcolonial textual re-writing.Zhaogou goes on - nothing like sectaries smacking the teacher - to conclude that -
If Bhabha continuously interrogates the nature of colonial discourse and relationship in terms of its ambivalence and hybridity, it is Gayatri Spivak’s works that persistently problematize the constitution of the colonized subjective agency from various angles. She endeavors to theorize the possibility of counter-knowledge of the subaltern, such as those constructed by colonizers or scholars of the Subaltern Studies group. In her frequently quoted essay 'Can the Subaltern Speak?' Spivak engages with the effect of the "epistemic violence" imposed by colonialist and imperialist discourses on the colonized native subjectivity and the complex issue of the denial of subjectivity to the native subaltern women in nationalist histories. She examines the pitfalls and aporias into which even the radical Subaltern Studies group may fall through a deconstructive problematization of the category of "the subaltern" and a further analysis of the subaltern women who are ignored even by the revisionist histories. Meaning as "a junior ranking officer in the British army" and "of inferior rank" (OED), the term subaltern is used by Gramsci to refer to those social groups subjected to the hegemony of the ruling classes in his 'Notes on Italian History' (1934-5). Gramsci uses this term to cover a great variety of people, including peasants, workers and other groups having no access to hegemonic power. Thus the history of the subaltern is necessarily fragmented and episodic because they are always subjected to the hegemony of the ruling classes even in their rebellion. It is obvious that the subaltern has less access to cultural capital and social institutions to produce their own representation. According to Gramsci, only a permanent revolution of class adjustment can break this pattern of subordination of the subaltern class (Prison Notebooks 52-54). This term was adopted in the Subaltern Studies collective “as a name for the general attribute of subordination in South Asian society whether this is expressed in terms of class, caste, age, gender and office or in any other way” (Guha vii). This group argues that, the problem with the historiography of Indian nationalism lies in the fact that it is dominated by both colonialist elitism and bourgeois-nationalist elitism. Therefore, it defines its goal as examining the subaltern "as an objective assessment of the role of the elite and as a critique of elitist interpretations of that role" (Guha vii).
Compared with the conception of resistance strategy as principally based upon a relatively autonomous and coherent notion of ethnic or national identity in the early anti-colonial writings, Spivak’s problematization of the constitution of colonized subjective agency in terms of imperial epistemic violence and its heterogeneity and the intellectual’s subjective position of power and desire helps interrogate the notion of identity as independent and self-sufficient consciousness, exposing the danger of reproducing the imperial power structures and re-silencing the subaltern involved in the process of postcolonial textual re-writing. However, the implication of this theorization and problematization consequently overemphasize the constitutive effect of the colonial discourse on colonial subjects, going so far as to disable their agency to initiate and sustain anti-colonial resistance and fail to get out of the captivating concept of discourse and power to imagine alternatives for effective resistance.That'll teach her, won't it!