Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome: A Pluriversal Narrative to Decolonise the Past and Confront Universal Eurocentrism


  • Dolores Herrero University of Zaragoza


The Calcutta Chromosome takes readers on a convoluted journey through time and space. At once a work of science fiction, a medical mystery, and a history of malaria research, this hybrid novel sets into rivalry India’s old-time wisdom and spirituality against Western science and English colonial presumptuousness, thus advocating transmodernity and the pluriversality put forward by critics such as Rosa María Rodriguez Magda, Enrique Dussel and Walter Mignolo, among others. This paper will analyse the way in which this novel denies the existence of a universal scientific method by deconstructing the certainties of an exclusively rationalist discourse whose discoveries have often gone hand in hand with exploitation, unequal power relations and colonization. Jacques Derrida’s notion of différance and Emmanuel Levinas’s ideas about the ethics of silence and knowledge will also be used to analyse silence as an alternative epistemological framework through which the dominant discourse can be undermined and the subaltern heard, and as a means to make amends for the injustices of the past by reclaiming the histories written by those who were made ‘others’ by the English imperial power.


Amitav Ghosh, transmodern narratives of the limit, pluriversality, English/Indian colonial power relations, history of malaria, Derrida’s différance, Levinas’s ethics of silence and knowledge


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Author Biography

Dolores Herrero, University of Zaragoza

Dolores Herrero is Full Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at the Department of English and German Philology of the University of Zaragoza, Spain. Her main interests are postcolonial literature and cinema, on which she has published extensively. She has participated in several competitive projects, the most recent of which is Literature Of(f) Limits: Pluriversal Cosmologies and Relational Identities in Present-Day Writing in English (PID2021-124841NB-I00), of which she is the main researcher.




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