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Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»

Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality

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Nirmala Menon and Marika Preziuso

One defining question links the essays of this collection: How do aesthetic and stylistic choices perform the condition of dislocation of the migrant and, in doing so, also put pressure on the seemingly global promise of cosmopolitanism? Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»: Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality offers a wide array of narratives that complicate the rhetoric of cosmopolitanism and the related discourses of «hybridity». Many such narratives are under-theorized migrations, such as Dalit narratives from India and inter-island migrations in the Caribbean. Collectively, the essays suggest that there are ways in which the forms of the migrant aesthetics, language, and imaginaries may offer new insights in the interactions between practices and discourses of hybridity and cosmopolitanism by examining their precise points of intersection and divergence. This inquiry is especially timely because it raises questions about the circulation, marketing, and consumption of narratives of migration, dislocation, and «diaspora.»
In addition, the collection addresses in at least two significant ways the question about «beyond postcolonialism» and the future of the discipline. First, by questioning and critically examining some foundational theories in postcolonialism, it points to possible new directions in our theoretical vocabulary. Second, it offers an array of reflections around disparate geographies that are, equally importantly, written in different languages. The value that the authors place on languages other than English and their choice to focus on the effect that multiple languages have on the present of postcolonial studies are in line with one of the aims of the collection – to make the case for a multilingual expansion of the postcolonial imaginary as a necessary imperative.
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Chapter 11. Rethinking Hybridity: Liminality in the Cultural Productions by Black and Asian Women in Britain

Extract

Liminality in the Cultural Productions by Black and Asian Women in Britain

SUMANA RAY

Hybridity is a risky notion. It comes without guarantees. Rather than a single idea or a unitary concept, hybridity is an association of ideas, concepts, and themes that at once reinforce and contradict each other. (Kraidy vi)

‘Hybridity’ is indeed a risky notion fraught with many contradictions. The concept gained recognition as a paradigm of colonial anxiety and rapidly became emblematic of the 1990s. Homi Bhabha’s notion of hybridity as outlined in his seminal book The Location of Cultures is predicated on colonial hybridity as a cultural form and conceptualised as the process of cultural contact between the colonizer and the colonised resulting in translating the identity of the colonized (Other) into something new, an altered subject-position, which Bhabha argues is a “third space of enunciation” (37) in which the hybrid subject is “neither the One. nor the Other. but something else besides, which contests the terms and territories of both” (13). He contends that this new subject position negates the dominance of the colonizer over the colonized. The hybrid identity thus challenges the validity and authenticity of any essentialist cultural identity and creates a “third space” where the “cutting edge of translation and negotiation” occurs (38). According to Bhabha, this hybrid third space is an “interruptive, interrogative, and enunciative” (179) space of new forms of cultural meaning and production blurring any existing boundaries and rejecting “primordial unity or fixity...

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