Gramsci was an Italian Commie nut job who was thrown into prison by some other Italian nut job who was not a Communist coz, at that time, being a Fascist gave greater scope for mindless bloodshed and fucking up the country big time.
While Gramsci was in prison he couldn't write 'proletariat' coz that was like a Commie word so he wrote 'subaltern' as a sort of code word.
In English, a subaltern was a junior officer- like a 2nd lieutenant in the Army- the rank Churchill held when he came to India- however a bunch of elite Bengali academics decided to use subaltern as a code word for the non elite because
1) they were pretending to be Commies while pretending to be fellow travelers pretending to be Commies pretending to be fellow travelers or I dunno... Maybe they actually started out by studying 2nd lieutenants in the Army but ended up like buying them drinks and you know one thing leads to another and suddenly you are waking up in a Ballygunge brothel betrothed to the mountain goat who serves as the regimental mascot and like fuck are them mountain goats high maintenance...
2) they were so fucking elite they didn't want the non-elite to know they were like studying them or, in not actually doing so, then in any case whining for tenure by pretending to stand up for the oppressed non elite types who, just in case they discovered what the word 'subaltern' meant, still needed to be reminded that their place was strictly below the salt.
3) they were so fucking elite they wanted to spend all their time narcissistically vapouring over how spectacularly elite they were and how 'subaltern' was such a nuanced term- and like only the elite could use it coz either the subalterns didn't have agency (Spivak- can the subaltern speak? Nope coz they are shite. Can Spivak speak? Yes coz she is elite shite) or if they did have agency- it might be like an employment agency for secretarial staff whereas what they themselves had was like a totally cool modeling agency for the hunger artists of International academia.
4) they really wanted to get in on the whole 'It's a Black thing- you wouldn't understand' shtick while preserving their elite status.
5) urm... they were Bengali. And did I mention the elite thing? Well elite is stretching things a bit. Call them 'high-brows'. What's a high-brow? 'Someone educated beyond their intelligence'. So not just Bengalis- this was a big tent affair.
Positive as opposed to Careerist achievements of Subaltern Studies-
1) They ended hunger, oppression, and discrimination based on gender or sexuality.
2) Well, they could have done, but didn't coz they're like ecological in their approach to the subaltern and do their bit, with their empty gesture politics, to conserve this unimportant sub-species to which the vast majority of human kind belongs.
3) They believe Europe in the late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century was fundamentally different from Asia and Africa coz.... urm... like y'know ... urm... like there was Hegel and y'know that other guy and...urm.... like Asian and African people are actually so totally different that the very fact that they are not biting their own arms off and stuffing them up each others' anuses, is coz like y'know hegemony and neo-colonialism and stuff? Nothing to do with technology or organization or stuff unrelated to y'know Hegel and that other guy and, oh yes, that other nut-job who proved them both wrong before setting fire to his own head in the mistaken belief that it was Jennifer Aniston playing the role of Roop Kanwar in Ram Gopal Verma's 'Suttee Sri Akal'.
Won't someone please tell me why I'm wrong?