Social Scientist. v 25, no. 292-293 (Sep-Oct 1997) p. 67.

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The Cultural Politics ofHybridity

Robert J. Young. ColonialDesire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race > London & New York: Routledge, 1995. xiii + 236 pp. $16.95.

The continuing and inevitably incomplete interrogation of modernity's concepts of objective and scientific knowledge, the nation-state, nature and culture, and progress, which for a long time had been invested with universal validity, has intensified greatly over the last two decades, and most particularly, as far as the American academy is a consideration, since the publication of Said's Orientalism in 1978. This resistance to the modern West's totalizing grip over knowledge systems has been countered by new social movements, besides taking the form, in the language of post-colonial critics, of writing back - to the center, the metropole, the reigning liberal consensus - by various activists, intellectuals, and cultural theorists, whether speaking on behalf of formerly colonized people or disaffected subaltern populations in the West. To be sure, many of these revisions and contestations follow in the wake of the disillusion with Marxist-inspired paradigms that have been felt to lack much purchase on unraveling the persistence of the affective hold of nation, ethnicity, and race even as class affiliation has been either deflected or subsumed by the manifestly greater pull and attraction of such ostensibly particularistic identities. In one such critical enterprise, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West(l99Q), Robert Young offered a synoptic account of the post-structuralist questioning of history, "the white mythology which reassembles and reflects the

* Anil Lal is an independent scholar and has taught English at Truman College and economics at Roosevelt University, both in Chicago; Vinay Lad is an Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and former Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, D.C.

Social Scientist, Vol. 25, Nos. 9-10, Sept.-Oct. 1997

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