Subaltern Studies

In critical theory and post-colonialism, subaltern is the social group who is socially, politically, and geographically outside of the hegemonic power structure of the colony and of the colonial homeland. In describing “history told from below”, the term subaltern derived from the cultural hegemony work of Antonio Gramsci, which identified the social groups who are excluded from a society’s established structures for political representation, the means by which people have a voice in their society.The terms subaltern and subaltern studies entered the field of post-colonial studies through the works of the Subaltern Studies Group, a collection of South Asian historians who explored the political-actor role of the men and women who are the mass population — rather than the political roles of the social and economic élites — in the history of South Asia. In the 1970s, the application of subaltern began to denote the colonized peoples of the South Asian Subcontinent, and described a new perspective of the history of an imperial colony, told from the point of view of the colonized man and woman, rather than from the points of view of the colonizers.

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