Hybridity Essay

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Hybridity refers to the mixture of phenomena that are held to be distinct, separate. In consumer behavior and lifestyles cut-‘n’-mix experiences have become increasingly common. The theme of hybridity matches a world of intensive intercultural communication, everyday multiculturalism, growing migration and diaspora lives, and the erosion of boundaries, at least in some spheres. New hybrid forms indicate profound changes that are taking place. However, hybridity thinking also concerns existing or, so to speak, old hybridity. Anthropologists studying the travel of customs and foodstuffs show that our foundations are profoundly mixed, and it could not be otherwise. Mixing is inherent in the evolution of the species. History is a collage. We can think of hybridity as layered in history, including pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial layers, each with distinct sets of hybridity, as a function of the boundaries that were prominent at the time and their pathos of difference. Superimposed upon deep strata of mixing in evolutionary time are historical episodes of long-distance cross-cultural trade, conquest and empire and episodes such as transatlantic slavery and the triangular trade.

Hybridization is as old as history, but the pace of mixing accelerates and its scope widens in the wake of major changes, such as technologies that enable new forms of intercultural contact. Contemporary accelerated globalization is such a new phase. However, if practices of mixing are as old as the hills, the thematization of mixing is relatively recent. It includes bricolage in culture and art. Dada made mixing objects and perspectives its hallmark and inspired the collage. Psychoanalysis brought together dreams, jokes, Freudian slips and symbols under new headings relevant to psychological diagnosis. While hybridity may be unremarkable in itself, its critical contribution is that it questions taken-for-granted boundaries.

Bibliography:

  1. Canclini, N. G. (1995) Hybrid Cultures. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN.
  2. Nederveen Pieterse, J. (2009) Globalization and Culture: Global Melange. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD.

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