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States of Exception

Everyday Life and Postcolonial Identity

2000
Author:

Keya Ganguly

States of Exception

Explores the conflict between capitalism and tradition in an immigrant community.

A philosophical anthropology of everyday experience, this book is also a deeply informed and thought-provoking reflection on the work of cultural critique. States of Exception looks into a community of immigrants from India living in southern New Jersey-a group to whom the author, as a daughter of two of its members, enjoyed unprecedented access.

States of Exception is a supremely lucid book, always firmly opinionated, sometimes fiesty, and extremely engaging. It is as substantial in its content as it is elegant in conception and in form.

Ross Chambers, University of Michigan

A philosophical anthropology of everyday experience, this book is also a deeply informed and thought-provoking reflection on the work of cultural critique. States of Exception looks into a community of immigrants from India living in southern New Jersey—a group to whom the author, as a daughter of two of its members, enjoyed unprecedented access.

Her position allows Keya Ganguly to approach the culture of a middle-class group (albeit one that is marginalized by racial prejudice), while the group’s relatively comfortable and protected style of life offers unusual insight into the concept of the everyday and the sense in which a seemingly commonplace existence can be understood as in crisis: a state of exception. Thus, Ganguly draws on the work of the Frankfurt School, particularly Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, to explore the possibilities of a dialectical critique of the everyday—a state of exception informing ordinary yet crisis-ridden narratives of the self under late capitalism.

States of Exception

Keya Ganguly is assistant professor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches cultural studies, film, postcolonialism, Marxism, and critical theory. She is a coeditor of the journal Cultural Critique.

States of Exception

States of Exception is a supremely lucid book, always firmly opinionated, sometimes fiesty, and extremely engaging. It is as substantial in its content as it is elegant in conception and in form.

Ross Chambers, University of Michigan

States of Exception will make Ganguly a leading figure among the new generation of Marxist-postcolonial cultural critics in the United States.

Dipesh Chakrabarty, The University of Chicago

Ganguly argues that her book ‘involves thinking with the paradox of theorizing the abstract concretely and the concrete abstractly,’ and she does so brilliantly in a study that advances materialist critique in the human and social sciences.

Canadian Literature

States of Exception raises issues of interest to anyone concerned with colonization and cultural adaptation. Keya Ganguly writes beautifully and interspersed with her wonderful prose are often hilarious accounts of her interactions with those who claim an alliance with the Raj. The result is a pastiche of interesting observations and some disturbing implications.

Pacific Reader

Ganguly’s keenly insightful book offers an elegant model of self-reflexive cultural analysis that is respectful yet critical of its own intellectual inheritances.

New Formations

States of Exception

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction:Gunga Gin and Other Anomalies

ONE Writing the Field
TWO The Antinomies ofEveryday Life
THREE Personal Memory and the Contradictions ofSelfhood
FOUR Food and the Habitus
FIVE The Dialectics ofEthnic Spectatorship

Afterword
Notes
Index