This is a reflection of a recent experience with a piece I had sent out for peer review. This piece drew upon Subaltern Studies theory to articulate the processes of erasure in the Eurocentric mainstream. One of the reviewers responded to this piece by noting that this argument has already been made in the Communication literature (citing a piece in rhetoric that was published in 2000 by a Caucasian scholar at a mainstream American university). So I went back to the piece with the idea that I had something new to learn, although even on its face, the reviewer's argument did not work as the postcolonial and Subaltern Studies literature predate to arguments made by South Asian and Latin American scholars starting in the 70s. I still wanted to check out this 2000 piece to see if it was indeed citing some of this postcolonial work (as far as I knew, other than the works of Raka Shome, Radha Hegde, Radhika Parameswaran, and some other scholars of Latin American and South Asian origins, these arguments were not really being made in the US communication literarture). To my surprise, the piece talked about voice, erasure etc. without referring to any of the Subaltern Studies pieces. To me, this appears as blatant plagiarism and intellectual theft, as defined within the languages of intellectual honesty that are applied by mainstream US institutions. So what is it in this process of intellectual theft of knowledges from the Third that constitutes the hegemony of Eurocentrism, paradoxically within those very pieces of multiculturalism that sound all progressive and radical in their calls for listening to voices from elsewhere? To me, clearly these high sounding calls for voices from elsewhere were themselves not listening to the voices from elsewhere.
Contemplating about the networks of Eurocentrism that constitute knowledge structures in academe, and specifically in the Discipline of Communication, we discussed about all the ways in which conferences, committees, associations work to silence voices from elsewhere and continue to perpetuate Eurocentric hegemony. So, publications committees, editorial boards, research committees in our associations get constituted through Eurocentric networks that play out to Eurocentric knowledge claims. What is central to these knowledge claims is the development of processes, strucures, and systems that carry on Eurocentric hegemony, and simultaneously deligitimize knowledge that is produced by elsewhere. Therefore, knowledge producing processes that make specific claims about the legitimacy of processes work to establish and reify Eurocentric hegemony, creating a field of knowledge where it would appear that the "real" production of knowledge that is taking place is taking place only in the US and in Europe.
An excellent example of ommissions for instance is the ommission of the extensive body of work in postcolonial theory and Subaltern Studies in communication scholarship that makes references to questions of erasure, silence, voice etc. Although the postcolonial and indigenous work predates the multicultural move in Eurocentric articulations of erasure, close examination demonstrates that this work really does not find its way into our journals making similar arguments. This erasure verges on plagiarism; the sort of plagiarism that has been carried out on the Third World by the colonial enterprise for centuries. This exemplifies the sort of plagiarism that underlies the violence done by European colonialists on the Third World through the fixing of the Third World as the subject of intervention, as incapable of producing knowledge that is of value. What is powerful about this hypocrisy is then the move by Eurocentric scholars in pointing out the ommission of their Eurocentric work in postcolonial pieces that draw upon the postcolonial roots of the work on erasure and voice.
In responding to this hypocrisy through resistance in writing, I have often followed one of two strategies: (a) to go back to the root pieces in postcolonial and Subaltern Studies theories such as Spivak, Guha, Escobar, Said to articulate arguments about erasure and voice, and to articulate these seminal pieces as entry points to knowledge creation (knowing fully well that the geography of space is intertwined with the production of knowledge); (b) to cite the Eurocentric pieces and then discuss the erasure of postcolonial theory in these pieces as a paradox that reifies the erasures that have been central to the (neo)colonial project. In these instances, my argument then works as resistance and as a pedagogical entry point for students, to draw them to the idea that postmodern reinventions of (neo)colonial logics continue to operate through the erasure of the Third as a space for the legitimate production of knowledge.
Ultimately then, I am starting to become more and more aware of the need for identity politics as yet another entry point to knowledge. Even as I articulate my own position of privilege in my fieldwork, I am also increasingly drawn to the need for making arguments about the ways in which the Eurocentric structure works to silence the positions through which I work out the co-creation of knowledge from spaces in the Third. For the student of postcolonial theory, the very process of producing knowledge is a political process, one that has to continually draw attention to the rape and the pillage of Third World knowledge that happens in the hand of Eurocentric knowledge structures that come in pretending to save the Third World and to do us good. Pointing out therefore to the hypocrisy of Eurocentrism (particularly the liberal multiculutural kind that talks about progress precisely with the goals of erasing) is a starting point in the postcolonial politics of knowledge production.