CriticaLink | Spivak: Echo | Reading Guide for Pages 27-28

And now the second question. . . .

What ethical challenges does the figure of Echo issue to critics of culture? For Spivak, this group is more specific: "the worldwide collectivity of conscientized feminists of color from bourgeois origins or in passive capitalist social relations" (27). Spivak argues that these feminists are in a position similar to that of Narcissus. Separated from the subaltern by cultural difference, class position and other forms of privilege, the feminist might wish for a way to overcome her own identity to be able to "reach" the subaltern.

Spivak emphasizes the impossiblity of the privileged feminist "becoming" a subaltern (through a kind of imitation or "going native"). The feminist addressess Narcissus's question "why do you fly from me?" to the subaltern, who is located in the position of Echo (though Spivak notes that these positions are not fixed, and that the questioner and respondent can change places depending on circumstances). The subaltern's "response" is not a simple echoing of the question, but a form of différance.