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Could you please help me analyze the meaning of this sentence?

If the order of Western historicism is disturbed in the colonial state of emergency, even more deeply disturbed is the social and psychic representation of the human subject.

For the very nature of humanity becomes estranged in the colonial condition and from that “naked declivity” it emerges, not as an assertion of will nor as an evocation of freedom, but as an enigmatic questioning.

The source is "Interrogating identity" by Homi K. Bhabha (1994)

I am not sure what the meaning of "for" is in this sentence. I was also wondering what subjects "it" refers to.

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  • What did the dictionary tell you about the conjunction for?
    – tchrist
    Jan 4, 2021 at 22:43

2 Answers 2

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The unwieldy sentence

For the very nature of humanity becomes estranged in the colonial condition and from that “naked declivity” it emerges, not as an assertion of will nor as an evocation of freedom, but as an enigmatic questioning.

can be reduced to

For it becomes estranged in that state and (from that state) it emerges as an interrogative.

Or

Seeing that it becomes estranged in that state and (from that state) it emerges as an interrogative.

OED

For (prep. and conj).

2. a. Introducing the ground or reason for something previously said: Seeing that, since. Cf. Greek γάρ, Latin nam or enim, French car, German denn.

1766 O. Goldsmith Vicar of Wakefield I. iii. 17 Near a fortnight passed away..for premature consolation is but the remembrancer of sorrow.

1838 T. Thomson Chem. Org. Bodies 806 This oil or resinous-like body contains phosphorus; for..we find phosphoric acid in the residue.

1883 Manch. Guard. 22 Oct. 5/3 This is no party question, for it touches us not as Liberals or Conservatives, but as citizens.

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It means because/since/for the reason that. The text could be rephrased like this: "In the colonial state of emergency, the order of Western historicism is disturbed, and the social and psychic representation of the human subject is even more deeply disturbed. (The above happens) because the very nature of humanity becomes estranged in the colonial condition and from that 'naked declivity' (that the colonial condition is) it (the humanity) emerges as an enigmatic questioning, and not as an assertion of will or as an evocation of freedom."

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  • There is some problem with this sentence. Without 'for' it sounds fine.
    – Ram Pillai
    Nov 1, 2020 at 5:46
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    @RamPillai without "for" then there is no marker that the paragraph is stating the cause for the previous paragraph. Nov 2, 2020 at 10:39
  • Slightly modified: The very nature of humanity becomes estranged in the colonial condition. From that ‘naked declivity’ it (humanity) emerges, not as an assertion of will, nor as an evocation of freedom, but as an enigmatic questioning. Where will you fit 'for'? It won't make sense at the start.
    – Ram Pillai
    Nov 2, 2020 at 17:03
  • @RamPillai You are going to have to do some work to criticise the use of English - the author: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homi_K._Bhabha
    – Greybeard
    Jan 4, 2021 at 22:23
  • @Greybeard, Yes, but I may not use a sentence like "You are going to have to do ... to criticise...". It seems you too are not much different. May be we two can do it together. 2) You edited the OP's post six hours ago, and exactly six hours ago, made the above comment! That is wise. Hope you will make your view precise rather than post a link...
    – Ram Pillai
    Jan 5, 2021 at 4:53

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