• There is a steady consensus within academic cultural studies concerning the fact that reifications (or 'essentializations') of ethnicity, whether literally meant or practically used, like reifications involving gender or national identity, are not good from a political perspective. The common response invokes hybridity as a counter-concept strong enough to dissolve the dangers of either hegemonic or counter-hegemonic reification and by the same token is able to ground a sufficiently fluid politics of identity/difference that might warrant the cultural redemption of the subaltern. Nevertheless, the political force of hybridity, such as it may be, remains to a large extent contained within a politics of the colour line. Without abandoning it, that is, without altogether abandoning the terrain of a politics of the subject, it would seem necessary to move beyond the theorization of hybridity in cultural studies in order to find ways to articulate subaltern resistance against the terror of dominant identities more effectively within a larger commitment to economic justice. Hybridity categories, once they solidify into a strategic political project, circumscribe political life to subjective agency; but subjective agency does not exhaust the political. Ultimately, the postulation of subjective agency as the limit of the political remains trapped within a Cartesian game of calculation and counter-calculation which is by its very nature unable to break through and beyond the internalization of hegemony. Some appeal to a position of exteriority remains necessary in order to restitute the possibility of what, following Balibar, we might call 'unconditional insurrection'. Unconditional insurrection does not name a voluntaristic project of world revolution. It names, rather, the possibility of an other history, of an alternative historical memory: a memory made possible by the simple fact that things could be, and could have been, other than what they are. Toylor & Francis Ltd 1999.

published proceedings

  • Cultural Studies

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Moreiras, A.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Moreiras, Alberto

publication date

  • January 1999