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Homi Bhabha’s Cultural Hybridity

“No man can live alone”, this basic aspect of human beings resulted in the birth of what is known as Cultural Hybridity. The interaction of various cultures since centuries in the form of colonization and trade relations brought together various human races in conjunction with each other and under the one main purpose- for generating maximum revenue by leveraging their trade and economic relations. People traveled far and wide, away from their societies, cultural roots, intermingled with the cultures of the other societies across various seas and oceans and produced what our various theorists termed as Cultural Hybridity.

Cultural hybridity got its birth when the two races intermingled with each other for any specific purpose and from it arose the new race. How this cultural hybridity came into being, should be visualized by delving deep into the social lives of our ancestors and look at the development of their relationships within the paradigm of material culture which became as an evolutionary channel as said by Gamble, “Its primary role was to provide a metaphorical understanding of those relationships.

” (Gamble 2007:88) And slowly and slowly from the material culture in the form of small tools and body language gave birth to technological advances that emerged as high lightening tone for many of the cultures to merge. Along with materialistic tools, languages brought landscapes and mute objects in a communion harmony with each other that slowly and slowly resulted in the intermingling of various races. (Gamble 2007:88) In today’s world, this cultural hybridity implies emergence of explorers and those of explored.

These two cultures intermingled and evolved into what Roland Barthes said, “third language, that is neither the one nor the other. ” (Raetzsch: Online Edition). Though we are embedded in the local culture and local environment still we have evolved ourselves and taken ourselves into the virtuosities of various cultures and languages. Whole globe seems to appear under the vicinity of one umbrella whereby we all coming from different languages, cultures find ourselves co-joined with each other and within it we have developed the meaning of our existence.

Marshal McLuhan described this as a Global village. We owe theory of cultural hybridity to Homi Bhabha who emphasized that the cultural hybridity arose from the interdependence between the colonizer and colonized. All the cultural systems and statements have been constructed in what is known as “The Third Space of Enunciation. ” When European powers occupied different nations, they did not carry with them just their economic ambitions but also brought with them their culture and their language. They thought that their interests lie only by mixing with the local natives and local cultures.

When people between the two languages and two natures intermixed with each other and incorporate each other cultures then what emerges is the third language, or third culture that has the essence of both the cultures. But it is most of the colonized people who adopt the culture of the colonizers. For example, a Parsi living in Bombay must have inherited the tradition of typical Parsi culture from his ancestors but while living in India, they must have also incorporated all the traits of culture so imbibed of Muslim and an Indian- a suppressed member of Indian society.

Thus Bhabha claims, “These hyphenated, hybridized cultural conditions are also forms of a vernacular cosmopolitanism that emerges in multicultural societies and explicitly exceeds a particular national location. ” (Di Pirro: Online Edition) Homi Bhabha is a post colonist theorists, born in India and now teaching at Harvard University. His vision lies in his perspective to seek the world as it is moving within the cultural shifts but within own parameters.

Bhabha says culture lies between different spaces, or some narrow space or interval part allowing the movements and processes of human endeavours to bring about articulations in their cultural differences opening the space for interchanging and intermixing within the realm of differences. In his own words, “Cultural hybridity are those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences’ and which permit the overlap and displacement of domains of difference”.

(Grenfell 1998: Online Edition) The best example can be given of Seokkyo congregation members who made modifications of their own religious practices by keeping their traditional socio-cultural values and incorporating the features of Christian values and represented the cultural hybridity of Korean Protestantism. In this way, according to Chudosik, Protestantism has been transfused in the culture that Korean population so cherishes. (Jang 2007: 403)

Culture identity that we all owe ourselves to and take pride of is only a result of mixing of the different traits of two cultures. What a best example can be given then that of the food culture. During the British rule in India during the period 1800 – 1947 AD, there could be seen British’s cravings for the Indian food. British’s love for the food resulted in the adoption of the different food choices according to their taste and formed what in Indian language known as “Curry”.

It is a simple spice that has helped them to cook Indian spices. This period saw the emergence of Anglo-Indian cuisine so cherished by both British’s and Indians and also certain “Raj” traditions known as “high tea”, simply meaning late afternoon meal served with tea. Bhabhas whole concept of cultural hybridity and his perception can be seen in literature and media. When the first English Newspaper, named Hickey’s Bengal Gazette was published in India in 1779, it was a breakthrough in the way people perceived cultural hybridity.

Sake Dean Mahomet’s non-fiction travelogue published in 1779, “Travels of Dean Mahomet”, was the first literary piece written by an Indian in English, an emblem of cultural hybridity that saw the behavior and the living style of colonized Indians under the British rule. It was the credit of Dean Mahmoot to leave a legacy of trans-culturation of “shampoo”(Hair Soap) which came into wide spread use in the West through him. (History of Indian English Literature: Online Edition).

In 1945, “I Know where I am Going”, an exclusive movie of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, did a commendable job by generating a love story in the backdrop of cultural hybridity. The story shot in black and white in Scotland revolves around the lives of Scottish people in America. Joan Webster, a young Englishwoman from an English middle-class family with an independent and ambitious bent of mind goes to the Scottish isles to marry Sir Robert Bellinger, who is very old, and rich industrialist on the on the Isle of Kiloran.

The story revolves around a girl who was forced to wait on the Isle of Mull, among people whose language and culture was alien to her. Latin America has beckoned the role of transcultural interactions in their film industry. Since the Spanish conquest, we can see several dimensions preponderant in the Latin American cinema. They have created an imperialistic approach marking the superiority complex of the conquerors towards the conquered. They visualized how the interaction between the cultures led to entirely new face in the society.

“Though often dismissed simplistically as merely the mixing of local and foreign elements, characters, styles, and speech in particular films, hybrid culture, as theorized by Nestor Garcia Canclini, Involves a deeper interrogation of modes of cultural production. ” (Guneratne & Dissanayake 2003:104) The way Americanization and Japanization have intermingled into the Asia to create what is known as regionalization that goes beyond the dimensions of what Bhabha perceives as the cultural hybridity.

This intermingling of culture made Japan to adopt a central role as a mediator to develop cultural connections between the East Asia and United States. The cultural industry of Japan often recreates western cultural habits and enters into the market of East Asia- an absolute embodiment of cultural hybridity. For e. g. in fashion world, “Japan translates the American and European Ideas to form into a sense of pitch, color, taste and emotion” that it shares in common with East Asia. ” (Katzenstein & Shiraishi 2006:11)

Bhabha draws his theory from the light of psychoanalysis and deconstruction theories of Kuhn and like-minded theorists and his interpretative thought process culminates into the arena of politics. He states that there is no difference between theory and politics and there is an essence of ideological perspective in theory. His theoretical thoughts culminated into what Bhabha perceives as saying that we can always find a “liminal” or “interstitial” space between various disciplines. This liminal space for Bhabha is not only an idea but he saw it practically happening between the various cultures of nations or disciplines.

About the oppressed culture, he says that they are not merely mute spectators but takes part in the process of formation of a new identity, which is not just of conquerors or rulers or of the colonized people but entirely a “Third Space”. He emphasized to the point that neither colonists nor colonizers superimposed their culture on one another but there is a kind of struggle to create a new space among themselves in their social or economical cycle and opens the way for adoptions with adjustments.

As said by Edward and Gayatri Spivak, “Homi Bhabha has helped create the field of Post-Colonial theory. His seminal works, “Nation and Narration” (1990) and “The Location of Culture” (1994), bring Deconstruction and Psychoanalysis into a politically and culturally charged arena. The result is a discipline that addresses the nature of hybrids and that is itself a hybrid”. (ArtandCulture. com: Online Edition)

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