Ferreira da Silva: Can the subaltern (subject of raciality) speak?

Ethnicities, Vol. 5, No. 3, 321-342 (2005)
DOI: 10.1177/1468796805054959

‘Bahia Pêlo Negro’

Can the subaltern (subject of raciality) speak?

Denise Ferreira Da Silva

University of California, San Diego, USA, dsilva@ucsd.edu

This article revisits the theme of representation by examining the relationship between difference and transparency. I argue that the current purchase of multiculturalism and diversity marks the ‘officialization’ of the 1980s politics of difference, which refashioned previous formulations of racial and cultural difference without challenging their ontological premises. Through a reading of the Bloco Olodum’s 1988s carnival lyrics, I chart the articulation of signifiers of Africanity, as a marker of cultural difference, which writes the black Brazilian as subaltern subject without producing a particular version of a (self-)transparent (interior/temporal) African subject. Instead, in this emancipatory text, Africanity delimits a region of subalternity, one inhabited by Africans and economically dispossessed blacks in the diaspora, which is defined in terms of a political struggle that marks their existence in post-Enlightenment social configurations. Not only does the interpretive strategy I deploy show how an attention to social scientific knowledge’s role in production of modern (post-Enlightenment) subject is crucial for a critique of the notion of difference informing the global principles of multiculturalism and diversity. More importantly, it also indicates why the logic of exclusion, the prevailing account of social subjection has been now added to the arsenal of racial subjection.

Key Words: Brazil • cultural politics • exteriority • globality • representation • transparency

This entry was posted in Colonialisms, Créolité, Enlightenment, Race. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ferreira da Silva: Can the subaltern (subject of raciality) speak?

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