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According to Homi Bhabha, what is hybridity in terms of post-colonial theory?

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To complete this assignment, first make sure you understand what hybridity means. The Oxford dictionary defines hybridity as “a condition in which … boundaries of identity are crossed.”

Homi Bhabha is associated with developing the theory of hybridity, analyzing colonial dominance on the occupied culture. Bhabha agrees with other scholars that colonialization often leads to the emergence of borrowing or sharing of certain cultural traits that results in hybridity or a hybrid culture that shares traits of both. Characteristics originating from both the occupier’s culture and that of the indigenous people blend to create facets of a new paradigm. One example that is often cited is the creation of the Creole language, which combines elements of French, English and African dialects.

Thus, hybridity often is used in post-colonial studies to imply cross-cultural exchanges or intermingling. However, there has been a lot of criticism of seeing the phenomenon simply in this way. This is because for many, the term has also minimized the unequal balance of power that exists between the occupier and the indigenous population. To provide an example, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Russian czars embarked on a policy of “Russianizing” conquered populations in order to eliminate their ethnic characteristics and cultural differences. Given that the various ethnic groups resided under the control of the czars and the Russian power base, this often resulted in the forced conversion to the occupier’s cultural traits. In other words, the term hybridity is often used to obscure that cultural differences which existed for indigenous population have been forcibly eliminated.

For Bhabha, hybridity describes the evolutions of culture and identity within conditions of colonial inequity. Moreover, Bhabha also notes that any claims of a hierarchical purity of cultures is not only spurious, but insulting to the indigenous culture. For Bhabha, hybridity, or some blend of the two cultures, and cultural differences can each exist.

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