Group Theory Presentation on Homi Bhaba

I’m posting this very late, but here’s my part of the group presentation. These are definitions for the main terms that Bhabha uses. Some of them are similar or overlap with each other.


(cultural) hybridity– This refers to the mixing of culture between the colonizing and colonized people. In the postcolonial setting, both sides are changed after the encounter. The implications of hybridity are that there is no essential identity to return to, as it’s constantly evolving.

(Parker mentions though that some critics take issue with the fact that the term carries a biological connotation of crossbreeding, which emphasizes a binary of identities, a binary that Bhaba is trying to get rid of with the non-essentialism of the hybrid).


Third space – This is the place where hybridity takes place, specifically where the hybrid identity is expressed through enunciation (by using language). Again, this emphasizes that every individual is a hybrid of sorts, and must enunciate its own identity for itself.

(the third space is similar to liminal spaces because it’s a middle space between fixed identities. However, for Bhabha, reaching a fixed place/identity is not important, because we are constantly in this evolving third space).


Mimicry – Is when the colonized people imitate the colonizers, and vice versa. However, it’s not always seen negatively as cultural hegemony. For Bhabha it can be subversive in that the colonized people can show they can just as easily act like and take on the mannerisms of the supposedly superior colonizer.


Unhomeliness – Relates to dislocation of people and the subsequent blurring of borders. Feeling the unhomely is not the same as having no home, rather it’s the disorientation of trying to situate culture. Bhabha adds that because borders are blurred (between what is home or global) there is also a blending of public and private.

Bhabha does borrow the term the “uncanny” from Freud (it can be a consideration if someone wants to use two works of theory together). He also mentions that even though unhomeliness is related particularly to the colonial and postcolonial condition, it can apply to any work of fiction dealing with cultural difference.


It can also be helpful to keep in mind Parker’s attempt to define the term postcolonial. To assume that “post” implies only “after” or “anti” imperialist, would ignore the fact that there is ongoing neocolonialism. Also, Bhabha warns against exactly the same implication when he explains that there is no essential identity from a “pre” colonial state to return to. Bhabha’s hybridity deals with temporality and the present so much because of the need to reframe identity within the ongoing changes to borders.


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