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This chapter introduces Gramsci as a thinker and suggests why his approach might be fruitful for the analysis of narratives of inequality. It explains the conditions under which his prison notebooks were written and discusses their character as texts, and considers the very different assessments of Gayatri Spivak and James Scott as to the ability of the subordinated, subalterns, to speak, and asks the question of where Gramsci should be located within this debate. It examines the meaning subalternity has in the notebooks, and argues that, contrary to a reading popularized by the Subaltern Studies Group, subaltern (which is always used in the plural in the notebooks) is not simply a euphemism for proletariat.

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