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Framing “Always Indigenize“ beyond the Settler-Colony: “Indigenizing“ in India Paulomi Chakrabortv University ofAlberta L en Fin dlay’s “A lways Indigenize” is an inspiring call to open up the academy in Canada to the indigenous people and to indigenous schol­ arship. Findlay’s critique of the Canadian academy for its tacit colonial practices is committed to local politics, and as clearly stated in the title of the essay, attends to the vision and possibility of “The Radical Humanities in the Postcolonial Canadian University” (italics mine). Although Findlay’s essay carefully remembers that its politics are contingent on the context in which they are taken up, the maxim “always indigenize” itself makes a broad generalising claim. Clearly, there is an element of universalization in the “always” of always indigenize. Findlay reminds us of Chandler’s caveat that Jameson’s “always historicize,” on which Findlay models his “always indigenize,” is “unclear and general” and lends itself to be “divergently interpreted” by literary scholars, his proposition, nevertheless, imagines a universal model (Findlay 308). This rhetoric of universalization becomes problematic, because Findlay’s critique and anti-hegemonic strategies spe­ cifically speak to invader/settler-colonies. My interest here is to assess what the call to indigenize means in non-settler colonies, specifically in India, where the colonial matrix is different than in a settler colony such as Canada. I write specifically with the more than 67.8 million (1991 cenESC 30.3 (September 2004): 17-28 Paulomi Chakraborty was born and grew up in Calcutta, India, and received her B.A. (Honours) and M.A. in English from Jadavpur University, Calcutta. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. Her PhD dissertation explores literary and cinematic narratives of partition and displacement in Eastern India and Bangladesh. sus) “tribal” peoples of India in mind, who form about 8% of the Indian population, and the largest “tribal” population in any single nation-state.1 I am not a tribal myself, and I do not speak “for” tribal peoples in India (a very large and heterogeneous group in itself): what follows are my con­ siderations as a scholar of Indian writing and as someone familiar with the politics and particularities of the Indian situation. It seems to me that Findlay’s strategies, which are so enabling in the Canadian context, taken up in its universalistic formulation, whatever else good they do, do not allow a liberating politics to the tribal peoples in India. And it also seems to me that if it were possible to translate it to an Indian context, the poli­ tics of Findlay’s essay would want to include the “fourth-world” “tribal” peoples, and not eclipse their cause. I am in deepest political sympathy with Findlay’s ideals, but because my concern lies in a non-settler colony, I must tease out his strategy to “always indigenize” from its unspoken and universalising settler-colony context. Findlay grounds his arguments on the hypotheses that “in the (human) beginning was the indigene” and “all communities live as, or in relation to, the indigene” (Findlay 308). In this context, he explains how he wants the call to indigenize to be heard: “as a strategically indeterminate provoca­ tion to thought and action on the grounds that there is no hors-indigène, no geo-political and psychic setting, no real or imagined terra nullis free from the satisfactions and unsettlements of Indigenous pre-occupation” (309). Further, the twin strategies of “visibility and conspiracy,” which he explores in Section 11 of his essay, work very well when the indigenous is a racial minority, visibly identifiable or otherwise. Moreover, the discus­ sion in the last section of a more inclusive English department, committed equally to “Englishes and Others,” becomes possible in Canada because English is the majority-spoken language. In spite of its colonial and heg­ emonic beginnings, Findlay can hope that English can “become a source of good instrumentality” which will allow “new alliances between English literary Studies and Indigenous Studies” (322,308). The historio-geography Findlay describes in all these assumptions suggests that that the kind of colonisation he has in mind, and hence his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1913-4835
Print ISSN
0317-0802
Pages
pp. 17-28
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-03
Open Access
No
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