"I am actually relieved to see these kinds of responses, because they accurately reflect the GREAT imbalance of power in the intellectual as well as political realm — what the Asian voices in my book describe and protest against. For a long time, Western histories simply suppressed non-western perspectives — nobody cared what the ‘native’ thought. But even today, the benignly universalist West creates the standards of judgement, and the historian at the imperial metropole of course writes the truly objective and coolly rational history. And the non-westerner challenging it with other perspectives is prone to be described — and discredited — as no more than a polemicist (The word is usual preceded by a damning adjective like ‘left-wing’ and ‘angry’). In this ‘universalist’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ perspective from the West, the parochial-minded native always responds and reacts, he doesn’t initiate anything or have original thoughts, let alone a history, of his own. But, you know, it is getting too late for this kind of ideological trickery."
Pankaj Mishra, author of the excellent anti-imperialism book From the Ruins of Empire, responds to those criticizing his book for being “polemicist.”
A brilliant conversation between Mishra and Tabish Khair can be read here.
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