Academic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is spearheading an international initiative to translate some of the classics of Bengali literature into English. She spoke to the YouTube channel Prohor about this project.

When asked about translating Mahashweta Devi’s short story, Draupadi, she said, “It was a cosmopolitan gesture to translate police double speak on the part of a so-called illiterate, naked tribal. Who’s the agent here?”

While talking about the divide between first world and third world nations, she said she does not believe in the monolithic division between the two. She added, “I tell my students, who live in the US, that they are children of a superpower. Look at your complicity – don’t your parents pay income tax here? Therefore, remember, you are folded together with those in power.”

Spivak also spoke on the ideals of Comparative Literature. She observed, “Any language can be a first language. When we say first language, we mean mother language – the language that forms our meaning-making system. There must be an acknowledgement of every person’s mother’s tongue.”