Should critical traditions value transparency, surface effects, and a realist attitude? Does the frame of realism help us recognize, narrate, and understand histories marked by erasure? This article analyzes Denise Riley’s 1988 book “Am I That Name?” alongside Gayatri Spivak’s essay of the same year, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” and argues that a stubbornly realist gaze remains blind to the enduring questions of feminist and postcolonial thought.

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