Abstract

In George Eliot's The Mill of the Floss, Maggie Tulliver, who cannot find a definite agenda to give a direction to her life, laments to her brother, '...you are a man Tom, and have power, and can do something in this world'. Tom's retort, 'then, if you can do nothing, submit to those who can', sums up very simply the lack of option for those outside the power structure.^ In cultural discourse as well, a certain centrality is appropriated by those who have power, and the rest are left: in peripheral positions with no choice other than submission. The relationship between the centre and the periphery need not however be fixed for all time, and theoretically speaking there is scope for synchronic and diachronic variations. In this paper I would like to discuss in very broad terms the relation between the centre and two peripheries - European critical traditions in relation to India and Africa at different points of history.

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