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Carola Dietze vs. Dipesh Chakrabarty

Carola Dietze, „Toward a History on Equal Terms: A Discussion of „Provincializing Europe”” pdf

Dipesh Chakrabarty, „In Defense of „Provincializing Europe”: A Response to Carola Dietze” pdf

„History and Theory”, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Feb., 2008)

Dietze:

Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference originates from the context of the Subaltern Studies Group. It is perhaps the most extensive and profound study of the relationship between Eurocentrism and the narratives of modernity in history-writing, connecting a fundamental critique of the discipline of history with the demand for a history of the subaltern. In the following, I first sum up the main arguments of Chakrabarty’s book (part II). In part III („History”), I argue that there is no necessary connection between history-writing and the narratives of modernity; on the contrary, at the beginning of the discipline of history there was a turn exactly away from such metanarratives. In part IV („Modernity”), I criticize the use of the term „modernity” in Provincializing Europe. I propose to use a radical „historicism” (German Historismus) in order to historicize the concept of modernity instead of deconstructing the discipline of history. In part V, a „History on Equal Terms,” I critique the concept of „modernity” in general and sketch out what a history based on a deconstruction of the concept of modernity and within the discipline of history might look like. My overall aim is to analyze Chakrabarty’s book and to take up what can be help ful in order to outline a way of writing world history.

Chakrabarty:

[…] as the reader will see, most our disagreements arise from my perception that Dietze has misread my book in small but important ways. I take the blame for the misreading. For reasons mainly personal, I had to finish PE in a great hurry. As a result PE lacks a chapter that summarizes its fundamental argument. (I have sought to provide this in my new Preface to the second edition.) The argument is dispersed over different chapters without adequate signposts and is sometimes made in far too cryptic a fashion. When readers have got the nuances of my argument – and, surprisingly, quite a few have – I have been lucky: they have done so in spite of the faults of exposition from which PE suffers. Dietze offers me another chance to explain what I was attempting to accomplish in PE. I am grateful to her for that opportunity. I also would like to make it clear that the few critical responses I offer to Dietze ‚s idea and ideal of „equal histories” do not – and are not meant to – do justice to the complex project she proposes. My responses arise from the context of my answers to her criticism of PE. But I think the idea of „equal histories” deserves a serious and separate discussion. I leave that for another occasion.

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