Critical Philosophy of Race 1 (1):104-120 (2013)

Namita Goswami
Indiana State University
Paul Gilroy's subtle use of Theodor Adorno in Postcolonial Melancholia misses the opportunity to forge for the postcolonial world a sense of responsibility for the colonial cultures that this postcolonial world helped to create. Gilroy rightly emphasizes the naïveté often associated with attempts to “dwell convivially with difference”. His negatively dialectical reading of the deterministic logics of racial difference brings into view an already present demotic multiculturalism. He neglects, however, how Adorno's conception of negative dialectics can be understood as postcolonial in its understanding of difference. In other words, both Adorno and Gilroy focus on recuperating a conception of non-antagonistic difference, that is, an understanding of difference as heterogeneity. Yet, Gilroy maintains an a priori sense of cultural difference from Adorno in spite of Postcolonial Melancholia's trajectory of positing a negative dialectics of conviviality. This conviviality is the “fragile, emergent substance of vital planetary humanism” that refuses to render postcoloniality synonymous with the maintenance of nation-state boundaries. Thus, Gilroy forfeits the prospect of conducting a radical postcolonial reading of Adorno, which would demonstrate precisely how colonial history provides “an opening onto the multicultural promise of the postcolonial world”.
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DOI 10.5325/critphilrace.1.1.0104
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