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In the introduction of the book The Location of Culture, Bhabha suggests that we, as members of the society, should attempt to understand cultural differences based on hybridity not based on “organic” group classifications. Nowadays, with the constant increase in immigration, one’s characteristics is not restricted only to her heritage. This book (1994) is authored many years after Said’s famous book in the field of colonialism, the Orientalism (1978).
Both authors make valuable points but guide the discussion in two different directions. Said bases his theory on the domination of the “Orient” by the “Occident”. He shows Orientalism as a way of resistance to the hegemonic western thoughts. Said criticizes the idea of dividing groups and looking down on them; however, he traps himself in the same loop by dividing the world into the two opposing binaries. On the other hand, Bhabha takes a gentle approach to post-colonialism and realises this situation as a “hybrid” of cultures.
The introduction section of this book consists of three parts. In the first part, “Border Lives: The Art of the Present”, he suggests that we should stop classifying others based on ethnic characteristics and traits because it arose from the “concept of ‘disrespect’.” Bhabha discusses that we need to consider “in-between” spaces where ethnic groups and cultures connect. In this utopian space, groups are not isolated from each other and shall not be part of a fix classification.
In the second part of the introduction, “Unhomely Lives: The Literature of Recognition”, Bhabha describes the sensation that immigrants experience in the post-colonial countries where they feel their home is not theirs. According to his theory, the concept of home or country is superfluous. He supports the idea that we should go beyond these unnecessary boundaries and feel the sensation of “unhomeliness”. This is in line with Bhabha’s attempt for “Deconstruction” of concepts. Personally, I feel connected with this idea that culture, ethnicity, home, and identity are variable phenomena and there are no borders or locations for them. Bhabha believes that “unhomely” or changing the living location is an opportunity to start approaching the trans-culturalization, beyond the identity.
The very last section of this introduction is “Looking for the Join”. This part is like a summary which ties the two other parts together. This essay is very organized with a thoughtful style. I enjoyed how the author came up with new concepts for the terms we were already familiar with, such as “beyond”, “in-between” and “hybridity”. The positive point is that he repeated these words often in the text to ensure that readers understand how these terms work according to his theory in his long descriptive sentences. I think his message is fundamental but utopian at the same time as he asks to redefine the way we approach identity in multicultural societies because we are shaped not only by our experiences and our own heritage but also by the experiences and histories of everyone we come into contact with. Bhabha sees culture as the defining element of identity, and it is on that basis that postcolonialism must reformulate a new discourse.
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