Homi K. Bhabha week. #2 The Location of Culture – Preface

Rethinking questions of identity, social agency and national affiliation, Bhabha provides a working, if controversial, theory of cultural hybridity – one that goes far beyond previous attempts by others. In The Location of Culture, he uses concepts such as mimicry, interstice, hybridity, and liminality to argue that cultural production is always most productive where it is most ambivalent.


It is the trope of our times to locate the question of culture in the realm of the beyond. At the century’s edge, we are less exercised by annihilation – the death of the author – or epiphany – the birth of the ‘subject’. Our existence today is marked by a tenebrous sense of survival, living on the borderlines of the ‘present’, for which there seems to be no proper name other than the current and controversial shiftiness of the prefix ‘post’: postmodernism, postcolonialism, postfeminism….

The ‘beyond’ is neither a new horizon, nor a leaving behind of the past…. Beginnings and endings may be the sustaining myths of the middle years; but in the end of the century, we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion. For there is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction, in the ‘beyond’: an exploratory, restless movement caught so well in the French rendition of the words au-delà – here and there, on all sides, fort/da, hither and thither, back and forth.’

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