Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Homi Bhabha

I am using an image of Mary Shelley's monster in Frankenstein to describe Bhabha's introduction to The Location of Culture because he represents confusion, dissonance, and interstice. He lives a tormented life, trapped between inclusion and exclusion, lacking any tradition or identity. He is completely isolated and without any past, leading a liminal existence, searching for something to call his own, but coming up with nothing. He eventually adopts a European identity, but he never assimilates into the culture because his appearance prevents him from being accepted as "the same". In similar ways, our postcolonial world still segregates people based on their physical appearances, languages, or dialects (i.e. AAVE).

The African American culture in the United States, for example, has grown from a dark past, flourishing and influencing the United States in fundamental ways, but there's still a divide between white and black America. How do two cultures, occupying the same geographic area, converge?

Homi Bhabha elaborates on this idea when he says, "we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion. For there is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction, in the 'beyond': an exploratory, restless movement" (1). 

One of the fundamental issues with colonialism was hegemony. Hegemony created the divide between "right" and "wrong" or "self" and "other", influencing colonized countries to lose sight of their own worth and identity. Our postcolonial world is shattered, and I think Bhabha believes we should pick up the pieces together, not as a culturally divided society.

Image Citation:

The Bride of Frankenstein. 31 December 1934. Promotional photo. Owens Archive/RKO Photos, Stamford, Connecticut. Web.


  1. Wow-- the underlying postcolonial reading of the creature here is WAY COOL to think about...I wonder if that could be teased out in an actual poco reading of the novel...I'm thinking about it....someone's probably written about that-- will have to check... great idea!

  2. I see that you didn't get enough of Frankenstein in Studies in English! But I also love your explanation of how he exists in between the boundaries of cultural identity, or "in the staircase" as we talked about in class today. Frankenstein didn't even occur to me when reading Bhabha, which is surprising considering how much time we spent dissecting it in Studies!

  3. I also think your Frankenstein example is awesome for thought. I'm thinking about him functioning as an homeless, disconnected figure as you mentioned here, but I'm also considering him as a character capable of challenging identifying difference among peoples who, likely according to him, are much the same (so collapsing the binary oppositions maybe?).