Reply Once upon a time I was a graduate student with time to read and discuss postcolonial theory. After those re-readings, I came to the understanding right or not that the social-historical-cultural world really does move forward in the grinding of big structures as the structuralists have it , but that is not the whole story. Change emerges in the interstices, Bhabha argues; newness slips in along the fault lines. At this distance from my reading and re-reading, that remains my basic impression.
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It builds on work on poststructuralist efforts around deconstruction, and as such forms a key part of postcolonial theory. Bhabha sees cultural translation as a discursive practice or strategy. By that I mean a method of carefully negotiating various discourses either through literal practice and action or the production of literature, culture, media, analyses and knowledge-making. The discourses of particular concern for Bhabha are connected unsurprisingly to issues of the migrant, the first- or second-generation immigrant, particularly those individuals and family groups moving from post-colonial countries to the West.
In that sense, his theory has an clear straightforward ethical concern: how are migrants from postcolonial countries supposed to live when they migrate to the countries that oppressed them — do they assimilate, or should they strive to retain their heritage somehow? The answer he puts forward is cultural translation: a way of rewriting oppressive Western discourses in order to expose their internal contradictions, to collapse their structural integrity, and to open up a space for something new.
Bhabha, p. Although cultural translation might seem a little abstract, Bhabha uses an example that nicely illustrates his point. In The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie invokes two contradictory discourses — the discourse of the liberal Western subject, and the discourse of the fundamentalist Muslim. Rather, cultural translation is a way for minority subjects to claim a degree of agency within a majority culture.
But hybridity is also the space where all binary divisions and antagonisms, typical of modernist political concepts including the old opposition between theory and politics, cease to hold. Instead of the old dialectical concept of negation, Bhabha offers the idea of negotiation or cultural translation, which he believes to be in itself politically subversive, as the only possible way to transform the world and bring about something politically new.
In his view, then, an emancipatory extension of politics is possible only in the field of cultural production, following the logic of cultural translation. Buden et al, p. The idea of taking cultural forms and reclaiming them is a powerful way of thinking about how cultural production and reception is negotiated more broadly. The location of culture. Routledge, Buden, Boris, et al.
How Newness Enters the World of African Art
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How Newness Enters the World
Bhabha shifted the limelight from the binary1 of the colonizer and the colonized to the liminal spaces in-between in the domain of Postcolonial studies. In "Difference, Discrimination, and the Discourse of Colonialism" Politics , he stated, "There is always, in Said, the suggestion that colonial power is possessed entirely by the colonizer which is a historical and theoretical simplification" Politics Bhabha used that vantage point of liminal spaces to study the phenomenon of cultural translation in his essay "How Newness Enters the World" which was published in a collection of essays titled under The Location of Culture The liminal zone, that the postcolonial immigrant occupies, is the guiding question of this essay. Bhabha explains: I used architecture literally as a reference, using the attic, the boiler room, and the stairwell to make associations between certain binary divisions such as higher and lower The stairwell became a liminal space, a pathway between the upper and lower areas