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Keywords:

  • Subaltern Studies;
  • postcolonial;
  • Gayatri Spivak;
  • Sri Lanka;
  • uncertainty;
  • translation

In recent years a small but rich geographical literature has engaged with Subaltern Studies to explore the geographical and geopolitical imaginations of subaltern subjects and groups. Such writings have deployed subalternity to designate a substantive subject or group marginalized in the face of power. Departing from this, the paper instead treats subalternity more figuratively, as a word able to evoke spatialities occluded by the Euro-American power that haunts disciplinary geography. The paper argues that using subalternity like this holds the potential to pluralize geographical interventions, particularly in the light of the discipline's materialist turns since the late 1990s. To make this argument, the paper engages Gayatri Spivak's seminal critique of the Subaltern Studies collective, suggesting how this might speak productively to a postcolonial geographical methodology. It demonstrates the potential of this methodology by weaving it through a broader attempt to critically engage the politics of nature and environment in Sri Lanka.