Allegorizing Neoliberalism:

Contemporary South Asian Fictions and the Critique of Capitalism


  • Sarker Hasan Al Zayed Assistant Professor, Department of English and Humanities, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, Dhaka



allegory, capitalism, Foucault, Marx, neoliberalism, South Asian fiction


What is neoliberalism? This essay tries to answer this question by drawing upon
two sources: theoretical discussions and literary representations. Michel Foucault
and Wendy Brown argue that neoliberalism is best understood as a new logic of
governmentality which has brought into being a new economic subject, homo
œconomicus. This article, positioning itself against the main tenets of Foucauldian
theories of neoliberalism, argues that a normative logic of governmentality is an
inadequate frame for understanding neoliberal capitalism. In order to understand
the contemporary moment better, we need to historicize neoliberalism and look
carefully into its relationship with capitalism and class. What we also need to
factor in is how a monetized consumerist worldview has normalized itself in
neoliberal culture. When we read contemporary South Asian fictions allegorically,
these normalized worldviews and masked relationships begin to come into view.
Allegorical presentations of neoliberalism in fictions, this essay hypothesizes,
have often taken two different paths: representation of it as a structure of feeling,
and parody and critique. A number of contemporary fictions including Samrat
Upadhyay’s “The Good Shopkeeper” and Amitav Ghosh’s the Ibis trilogy can be
read as neoliberal allegories thematizing not only the material alterations that
neoliberalism has ushered in but also the cultural transformations that have
become parts of our everyday life.




How to Cite

Hasan Al Zayed, S. . (2020). Allegorizing Neoliberalism:: Contemporary South Asian Fictions and the Critique of Capitalism. Crossings: A Journal of English Studies, 11(1), 117–136.