Empowering Silence


(post)-colonial discourse

How to Cite

Abdaoui, Kamel. 2020. “Empowering Silence: The Other’s Agency As a Site of Resistance in J. M. Coetzee’s Early Fiction”. Brolly 3 (3):119-36. https://www.journals.lapub.co.uk/index.php/brolly/article/view/1629.


This paper examines the problem of the Other’s agency as a space of tension and contention between, on the one hand, a dominant discourse that tends to subjugate the Other’s voice through either modulation or obliteration and, on the other, silence as a strategy of resistance to the hegemonic discourse of apartheid in J. M. Coetzee’s early novels. The authority’s stratagem of using violence, whether it be corporeal or discursive, to coerce its (ex)colonial subjects to speak, confess, and even consent to the authorized versions of truth is impugned by the Other’s provocative reticence to communicate with the Self. To achieve its autonomy in the face of such a totalizing authority, which relentlessly seeks to suppress any disrupt voice of alterity, the Other resorts to silence as an act of evasion and possibly liberation. The speechlessness of the Other in Coetzee’s early novels, then, is not presented as a mere act of relinquishment the agency; it is rather eloquently staged as an aporetic state of incommensurability that disarticulates colonial and imperialist modes of representation tending to normalize and assimilate the colonized within its cognitive framework.