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South Asian Literary Association


The valorization of traditional sources that has come to be termed nativism has a broad politics that can distort the historical record by romanticizing the past. When Leopold Senghor or Amilcar Cabral speak of a "national culture"1 as the source for post-independence development and Frantz Fanon warns against the exoticization of "native"2 culture, the contours of the argument seem to be obvious: critics in one camp seek first to counter colonial cultural dominance; critics in the other camp wish to temper such rejection with a "domestication" of European culture. Westerners, even well-meaning ones, can get caught in related entanglements when engaged in the representation of other cultures. Thus, building on the work of Bronislaw Malinowski, filmmaker Trinh Minh-ha notes ironically that "language is a means through which an interpreter arrives at the rank of a scientist" (74). Quote the "native," she seems to be saying, and the researcher can become a successful ventriloquist for this or that theory-and a tenured one, at that.


Copyright © 2001 South Asian Literary Association. Reprinted with permission.



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