History, the Human, and the World Between

History, the Human, and the World Between

Book Pages: 286 Illustrations: Published: April 2008

Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

History, the Human, and the World Between is a philosophical investigation of the human subject and its simultaneous implication in multiple and often contradictory ways of knowing. The eminent postcolonial theorist R. Radhakrishnan argues that human subjectivity is always constituted “between”: between subjective and objective, temporality and historicity, being and knowing, the ethical and the political, nature and culture, the one and the many, identity and difference, experience and system. In this major study, he suggests that a reconstituted phenomenology has a crucial role to play in mediating between generic modes of knowledge production and an experiential return to life. Keenly appreciative of poststructuralist critiques of phenomenology, Radhakrishnan argues that there is still something profoundly vulnerable at stake in the practice of phenomenology.

Radhakrishnan develops his rationale of the “between” through three linked essays where he locates the terms “world,” “history,” “human,” and “subject” between phenomenology and poststructuralism, and in the process sets forth a nuanced reading of the politics of a gendered postcolonial humanism. Critically juxtaposing the works of thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Adrienne Rich, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, David Harvey, and Ranajit Guha, Radhakrishnan examines the relationship between systems of thought and their worldly situations. History, the Human, and the World Between is a powerful argument for a theoretical perspective that combines the existential urgency of phenomenology with the discursive rigor of poststructuralist practices.


“A compelling interrogation. . . .” — Christine M. Battista, Modern Fiction Studies

“A work of noteworthy scholarship. Committed rigorously to the in-between space father than ‘the comfort and security of a monologic home’ (24), History, the Human and the World Between emblemizes intellectual cosmopolitanism with the author's existential respect for the particularity of humanity, poststructuralist critique of totalization, and a fervent pursuit of the dialogical relations between the compulsion to define and a learned conviction about the limitation of defining and definitions.” — Leilei Chen, ariel

“Highly recommended.” — K. M. Kapanga, Choice

“Radhakrishnan's great contribution in this book [is that] he shows that every proposition offered in the service of understanding the world is also a form of negation, and even the best intentions of theorists and poets may foreclose on the very generative potential of alterity, of the unfinished processes of becoming.”

— Stephen M. Levin, MELUS

History, the Human, and the World Between will certainly become a significant locus of theoretical discussion given R. Radhakrishnan’s remarkable ability to bring into conjunction lines and lineages of thought that are so often pursued discretely.” — David Lloyd, author of Ireland after History

“In this provocative, enlightening theoretical exegesis, R. Radhakrishnan brings together a series of theorists—Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, Ranajit Guha, and David Harvey—who are rarely, if ever, examined in conjunction with each other. Maintaining a powerfully rigorous and lucid focus on the epistemological structures underlying their theories, Radhakrishnan brings them all to bear on the problematic relations between the human subject, history, temporality, and world created by the interaction between these. This is an excellent book.” — Abdul R. JanMohamed, author of The Death-Bound-Subject: Richard Wright’s Archaeology of Death

“R. Radhakrishnan’s caring but critical engagement with the writings of Ranajit Guha and Edward Said—set in the background of some deep reflections on the intellectual heritage of poststructuralism—reinvigorates for our times the long-standing conversation between postcolonial critics and modern European thought. A stimulating contribution to contemporary debates.” — Dipesh Chakrabarty, author of Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

R. Radhakrishnan is Professor of English, Asian American Studies, and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Theory in an Uneven World and Diasporic Mediations: Between Home and Location.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1. Revisionism and the Subject of History 31

2. Edward Said and the Politics of Secular Humanism 115

3. Worldling, by Any Other Name 183

Notes 249

Works Cited 267

Index 281
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3965-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3954-0
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