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Can the Subaltern Smile? Oedipus Without Oedipus
Contemporary Political Theory (2015)
  • Andrés Fabián Henao Castro, University of Massachusetts Boston
This article explores the relationship between theory and praxis by contrasting three different models of intellectual endeavor: totalizing, particular and decolonial. Attending to the critique that Gayatri Spivak raised against Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze in Can the Subaltern Speak?, this article advocates a dramaturgical reading of texts as a model for political theory to address subaltern agency. It reads such agency in the smile that Pier Paolo Pasolini registers in his 1967 film version of Sophocles’ play, Oedipus Tyrannos. Dramaturgically read, Oedipus reveals another text, the tragic history of a yet insufficiently explored democratic alternative that goes against the established democracy and its complicity with inequality in the continued naturalization of slavery despite its foundation in equality. This subtext demands understanding Oedipus as a political production from the speechless agency of dissident servants, a more subversive aspect of democratic politics.
  • Decolonial intellectual,
  • dramaturgical reading,
  • subaltern,
  • Gayatri Spivak,
  • Oedipus Tyrannos
Publication Date
February 10, 2015
Citation Information
Andrés Fabián Henao Castro. "Can the Subaltern Smile? Oedipus Without Oedipus" Contemporary Political Theory (2015)
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