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After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Postcolonial Theologies.

After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Postcolonial Theologies. By Vitor Westhelle. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2010. xix and 181 pages. Paper. $22.

After Heresy is a study of colonization as embedded within the Western hegemony which emerged in the sixteenth century and propagated through the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. The logic of Western hegemony reached its climax in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which witnessed the awakening of the consciousness of subaltern people. For the pre-text of colonization, the author undertakes analysis of the conquest in terms of interest and desire which breaks through the binary juxtaposition between oppressor and oppressed and its interpretive tools. The Western world has imposed its logic, leading to global domination; this imposition has been described in terms of conquest, colonialism, and imperialism. The theory and practices in postcolonial literature are generally patterned by deconstructive passion of the globalized Empire, following in the footsteps of postmodern thinkers such as. Derrida and Foucault.

Westhelle, however, seeks to locate the eschatological discourse of liberation theology in the understanding of history, society, and eschatology, cutting through postcolonial consciousness and praxis in the aftermath of World War II. The author is skillful in analyzing the incomplete project of modernity (Habermas), the genealogy of knowledge, discourse, power (Foucault), and deconstructive differance (Derrida). Spivak's poignant question--can the subaltern speak?--comes into focus. The author adumbrates the logic of representation (for example, speaking by proxy in politics) and representation (as in art or philosophy through portrait) in a provocative manner. Spivak's reluctance about a discourse of victimization remains a field of debate, because she worries about the inscription of the subalterns into essentialist and utopian political categories.

Westhelle underscores the Lutheran notion of gospel in the sense of viva vox evangelii, which provides a space of communication with others, as expressed and translated in the different languages of a particular context. God in the living voice of the gospel awakens us to the politics of eschatology, participating in God's protest against colonization of the life-world. The substantial contribution of this book begins with empathic listening to the voices of the voiceless, through whose face God continues to speak, thereby advancing the hybrid task of a subaltern and liberating theology today.

Paul S. Chung

Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.
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Author:Chung, Paul S.
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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