Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Bhabha Must Not Be Hasitly Read

The representation of difference must not be hastily read as the reflection of pre-given ethnic or cultural traits set in the fixed tablet of tradition. The social articulation of difference, from the minority perspective, is a complex, on-going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities that emerge in moments of historical transformation.

- The Location of Culture, page 2, Homi K. Bhabha.


I spent too long scouring the depths of Flickr for a Creative Commons/appropriate picture to pertain to this excerpt. Ingenious searches such as "minority identity" and "skin hybrid" bared unfruitful results, but of course a search as obvious as "paint" returned a number of exploitable images.

It took a quick glance strict democratic process, but eventually the committee settled on this one:




This painting represents a lot of different aspects of being within a minimalistic palette (the painting really only uses about five different colors). Below, I've broken down how each line of the excerpt relates to the painting.

The representation of difference must not be hastily read as the reflection of pre-given ethnic or cultural traits set in the fixed tablet of tradition. In other words, different cultures should not be distinguished by the presumptions of society. If we look at each color as single ethnic groups, there is clearly difference and uniqueness within the individual groups. For example, not all "green people" are the same - some are striped, some have cat-like eyes, some have circular eyes, etc. We should not differentiate a culture as singular based on what we assume is an overall understanding of the entire ethnicity. We should not liken the different ethnicities in Africa to each other based on our own understandings of "Africa."

 The social articulation of difference, from the minority perspective, is a complex, on-going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities that emerge in moments of historical transformation. The social articulation refers to the "negotiated" singular identity created in order to address the wholeness of "others." What's striking is that the articulation of difference seeks to authorize hybridities, or hybrids. This sounds counterintuitive, as a hybrid would not be individualistically distinguishable, just as the gray soup of rainbow ice cream does not allow for separation of the individual flavors of the unmixed rainbow ice cream. The painting shows a cultural hybrid, what looks like a monster of joined color groups. In moments of historical transformation the social articulation of difference (or S.A.D.) wants to hybridize the separate cultures involved. In other words, history wants to be simplified. This could take away from what might be called micro-identities, such as the homosexual African-American culture, where S.A.D. would want to remember the homosexual struggle and the African-American struggle as one big struggle, but not as joint.

On the other hand, S.A.D. may be trying to allow for the distinguishing remembrance of hyper-minorities, such as the social group of homosexual African-Americans. This idea may concur with the idea of the minority perspective, which observes the emergence of hyper-minorities within the Venn diagram of history. In this way, the painting symbolizes a complex hyper-minority of several different identities. It no longer looks like a monster, but a beautiful piece of united and hybridized struggle, an authorized spotlight on a silent group beyond the larger social struggles of gender, race, economic class, and etc.

I hope I've done Bhabha justice, but if not...it's his fault.

- What is the connection between minority perspective and the "beyond" mentioned elsewhere in Bhabha's writing?

- How does the "borderline of the 'present'" and its constant shifting correlate to Derrida's constantly shifting center, and how do the changes in history shift the borderline?

I would also like to give recognition to the runner-up picture for this post, it was a tough decision:

 
 
Works Cited
Bhabha, Homi K. "Locations of Culture." Introduction. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994. 1-18. Internet Archive. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Howard, Gail. Doodle Painting Symbiosis 2 120 X 40 Cm. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 19 July 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Pereira, Michaela. Bon and Painting. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 4 July 2014. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! This-- and your comments on others' posts-- reflects some great engagement with the text! And to see the Derrida at work here really indicates that you understand the foundational poststructuralism (is that an oxymoron?) at the center (!!!) of the Bhabha piece. I should stop talking now, since all my words are problematic. :)

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