It is a great honour and privilege for Habib University to host and present Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak as the keynote speaker of our Annual Conference on Postcolonial Higher Education. Professor Spivak is the world’s preeminent postcolonial thinker. She has engaged and transformed disciplines and theoretical paradigms across the humanities and social sciences both for the North as well as the South, placing the question of postcoloniality at the heart of modern knowledge. The singular critical force of her thought has not spared the postcolonial itself – her internal critique of postcolonialism always pushes us towards a further ethical and political horizon. Above all, Professor Spivak has ceaselessly raised the stakes for the task of thinking in general, in a time when nothing is more necessary. There could be no better figure than her to represent the aspiration of Habib University to call for the urgency of thought locally and globally.
Born to a feminist mother and a gender neutral-father, Professor Spivak is University Professor at Columbia University, the first woman of color to receive this highest award, not to be confused with the rank of full professor, which she attained at the University of Iowa in 1975. She is deeply involved in feminism across the spectrum and beyond a single issue. Her latest books include Other Asias and An Aesthetic Education in An Era of Globalization. She won the 2012 Kyoto laureate in Art and Philosophy, and was awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan in 2013. She also trains teachers and guides ecological agriculture in western Birbhum district, West Bengal, India. Some of her more current projects are consortial initiatives, continental Africa; Himalayan Studies initiatives, Kathmandu-Kolkata-Kunming; thinking globality together, French, India and Senegambia; re-translating Of Grammatology and finishing a book on W. E. B. Du Bois. Her book Readings is forthcoming from Seagull Press in Kolkata and she is a member of the Council on Values of the World Economic Forum.