There are many cultures. But only one culture has offered descriptions of other cultures. What are the implications of this fact for the human sciences? Until the appearance of Edward Said’s Orientalism, the human sciences did not find it necessary to interrogate either the status of these descriptions or the culture that offered them. The western descriptions of other cultures have recently been contested by postcolonial theory/discourse which has not, however, looked into the culture that produced the descriptions. Valorizing the present in India (and other postcolonial cultures), this paper argues, requires us to take a road that neither Said nor postcolonial discourse has taken: namely, reconceptualizing the human sciences by theorizing the experience of the non-western cultures and, as a prerequisite to it, theorizing the West.
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