Comments on Ashish Rayadhyaksha’s “The great transition: our battles over history”
Rayadhyaksha’s essay is basically an ambitious and challenging attempt to place protest movements and their relation to changing structures of power in a larger comparative historical framework. What the suggested framework recognizes is that history today is experienced more and more as a form of hysteria that defies our efforts to understand it. In this situation, historiography needs all the help it can get, including turning to science fiction for insights. The “planetary shift” in this respect is not just a geo-physical phenomenon. It points to “the great transition” in the essay’s title, to the fact that the grids and paradigms which we have been using to understand the world, including globalization and protest movements, no longer work. Normalcies and anomalies can no longer be easily distinguished from each other. The exception does not prove the rule; instead, what the proliferation of anomalies proves is that the rules have already changed.
KEYWORDS: Planetary shift; science fiction; the great transition; normalcies; anomalies
Notes on contributor
Ackbar Abbas taught at Hong Kong University until 2007. He was for many years Chair of Comparative Literature and co-director of the Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures. At present he is Professor of Comparative Literature at UC Irvine.