Woman Skin Deep: Feminism and the Postcolonial Condition

  • Citation: Suleri, Sara. "Woman skin deep: Feminism and the postcolonial condition." Critical inquiry 18.4 (1992): 756-769.
    • Topics:
    • IR Theories
    • Keywords:
    • anti-intellectualism
    • postcolonial feminism
    • binarism

Given the current climate of rampant and gleeful anti-intellectualism that has overtaken the mass media at the present time, both literary and cultural interpretive practitioners have more than ample reason to reassess, to reexamine, and to reassert those theoretical concerns that constitute or question the identity of each putatively marginal group. There are dreary reiterations that must be made, and even more dreary navigations between the Scylla and Charybdis so easily identi6ed in journalism as a conflict between the ‘thought police’ on the one hand and the proponents of ‘multiculturalism’ on the other. As readers of mass culture, let us note by way of example the astonishing attention that the media has accorded the academy: the Gulf War took up three months of their time, whereas we have been granted over a year of headlines and glossy magazine newsworthiness. Is our anathema, then, more pervasive than that of Saddam Hussein? In what fashion is the academy now to be read as one of the greatest sources of sedition against the new world order? The moment demands urgent consideration of how the outsideness of cultural criticism is being translated into that most tedious dichotomy that pits the ‘academy’ against the ‘real world’. While I am somewhat embarrassed by the prospect of having to contemplate such a simplistic binarism, this essay seeks to question its own cultural parameters by situating both its knowledge and its ignorance in relation to the devastating rhetoric of ‘us and them’ that beleaguers issues of identity formation today. Grant me the luxury, then, of not having to supply quotation marks around several of the terms employed, and – since the time of life is short – an acknowledgement that the ‘we’ to which I am forced to take recourse is indeed very, very wee.

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