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Performing Hybridity

May Joseph
Jennifer Natalya Fink
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Performing Hybridity
    Book Description:

    Amid the modern-day complexities of migration and exile, immigration and repatriation, notions of stable national identity give way to ideas about cultural “hybridity.” The authors represented in this volume use different forms of performative writing to question this process, to ask how the production of new political identities destabilizes ideas about gender, sexuality, and the nation in the public sphere. Contributors: Meena Alexander, Awam Amkpa, Tony Birch, Barbara Browning, Manthia Diawara, Fiona Foley, Sikivu Hutchinson, Deborah A. Kapchan, Toby Miller, Shani Mootoo, Fred Moten, José Esteban Muñoz, Chon A. Noriega, Celeste Olalquiaga, Ella Shohat, and Robert Stam.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8845-6
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: New Hybrid Identities and Performance
    (pp. 1-24)
    May Joseph

    The discourse of hybridity has numerous international points of emergence. It emerges in the twentieth century alongside autochthonous nationalisms in the struggles for territorial and cultural sovereignty across Francophone, Lusophone, Iberian, Dutch, German, and Anglophone colonies. Although the foundational discourses of hybridity lie in the anthropological and biological discourses of conquest and colonization, the modern move to deploy hybridity as a disruptive democratic discourse of cultural citizenship is a distinctly anti-imperial and antiauthoritarian development. The antecedents for this discourse lie in an intricate negotiation between colonial abjectness and modernity’s new historic subjects, who are both colonizer and colonized. Always framing...

  5. Part I: Transnational Hybridities

    • Three Poems on the Poverty of History
      (pp. 27-34)
      Meena Alexander

      She waited where the river ran

      that summer as the floods began

      stones sinking, fireflies murmuring

      in paddy fields, herons on stumps of trees

      the axe planted where little else would work

      and everywhere the mess of water.

      “So you have entered a new world”

      her voice was low, growling even.

      There was nothing humble in her voice.

      Sometimes the dead behave in that know-all-way

      ploughing the ruts of disaster,

      their unease part of our very pith—

      what the axe discovers marrow and meat to us.

      “So what’s it like there?” she asked.

      I replied: “As the Hudson pours


    • Culture and the Global Economy
      (pp. 35-45)
      Toby Miller

      I want to do two things in this essay: first, propose a means of theorizing the global cultural economy based on what I call the new international division of cultural labor; and second, look at die implications of that understanding of the economy for cultural intellectuals. Throughout, my stress will be on the need to connect the distributional and the textual aspects of culture. Rather than splitting off questions of performance from context or economy, my intention is to intricate them, and to do so in the light of a geopolitics that is necessarily hybrid.

      In June 1965, a conference...

    • A Blast from the Past
      (pp. 46-58)
      Fiona Foley

      In Aboriginal Australia, there are six major seasons in the yearly cycle. It was during the Aboriginal calendar season of Midawarr (the fruiting season) that this journey unfolded.

      I was air-shipped to Germany along with a number of other Australians, both indigenous and nonindigenous, in March 1995. The international guests attending the Eliza Fraser symposium in Germany were treated to a field trip. From West Berlin further into the east, on a train threading its way through a scene resembling one from Steven Spielberg’sSchindler’s List,the destination was the Leipzig Museum and the collection of the renowned German naturalist,...

    • Palimpsestic Aesthetics: A Meditation on Hybridity and Garbage
      (pp. 59-78)
      Robert Stam

      Cultural discourse in Latin America and the Caribbean has been fecund in neologistic aesthetics, both literary and cinematic: “lo real maravilloso americano” (Alejo Carpentier), the “aesthetics of hunger” (Glauber Rocha), “Cine imperfecto” (Julio Garcia Espinosa), the “creative incapacity for copying” (Paulo Emilio Salles Gomes), the “aesthetics of garbage” (Rogério Sganzerla), the “salamander” (as opposed to the Hollywood dinosaur) aesthetic (Paul Leduc), “termite terrorism” (Gilhermo del Toro), “anthropophagy” (the Brazilian modernists), “Tropicalia” (Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso), “rasquachismo” (Tomás Ibarra-Frausto), and Santeria aesthetics (Arturo Lindsay). Most of these alternative aesthetics revalorize by inversion what had formerly been seen as negative, especially...

    • The Daughters of Gandhi: Africanness, Indianness, and Brazilianness in the Bahian Carnival
      (pp. 79-95)
      Barbara Browning

      Friday is the day of Oxalá, Big Daddy in the Sky, and on this Friday that opens the carnival of Bahia, Brazil, my sisterSóciasof the carnival group the Daughters of Gandhi and I convene in the old part of the city to offer him libations and ask for peaceful festivities. The oldest Daughters sing, and we clap and respond, and then our chests are splashed with a cool, gritty mixture of cornmeal and water that will leave us smelling sweet like corn all that afternoon and evening, despite the oppressive heat. Our offerings constitute a secular ritual. The...

    • Floating Signification: Carnivals and the Transgressive Performance of Hybridity
      (pp. 96-105)
      Awam Amkpa

      Days before carnival in inner-city communities in Britain, huge sound systems make their distinctive musical pronouncements in street corners and various housing projects or estates. Calypso, reggae, ragamuffin, jungle, hiphop, ska, and other forms of music inscribed with a determined desire for conditions ofbeing, becoming,andbelongingto various imaginations and constructions ofhomedominate the energies of the revelers. For these people, the celebratory cultural activities and constant hegemonic reminder ofnot belonging, not being at home,and destitution evoke a counterspirit of relentless assertiveness of their presence through music and dance. Apart from diverse auditory tropes, aromas...

    • Hybridity and Other Poems
      (pp. 106-111)
      Shani Mootoo

      Point of convergence

      Union of way back then, back home and home

      Where I depend neither on memory or desire

      Where I am neither mendhi, baigan, or steelpan


      Mindless of these

      Seamless juncture

      As in mulligatawny that cooks long and slow

      Neither Jeera, cardamom, hurdi, nor clove

      stand alone


      As in: “offspring of tame sow and wild boar

      Child of freeman and slave”*

      Some concoction, some new stew or callallaoo

      Spotted variegated deformed crude new






      Where neither Nepalese great-grandmother

      Mother,lover, nor government can define I


      am I

      Mindless of these

      Hardi aloo...

    • The Autoethnographic Performance: Reading Richard Fung’s Queer Hybridity
      (pp. 112-130)
      José Esteban Muñoz

      Are queens born or made? The royal visit sequence of Richard Fung’sMy Mother’s Place(1991) undoes the “either/or” bind that such a question produces. A sequence from the film’s beginning narrates the moment when the pasty specter of a monarch born to the throne helps to formulate an entirely different type of queen. A flickering sound and image connotes an 8mm camera, the technology used before the advent of amateur video cameras. A long black car leads a procession as schoolchildren, mostly black girls and boys wearing white or light blue uniforms, look on. At the center of the...

    • Taboo Memories and Diasporic Visions: Columbus, Palestine, and Arab-Jews
      (pp. 131-156)
      Ella Shohat

      Dr. Solomon Schechter [Cambridge expert in Hebrew documents a century ago] agreed to look at them, but chiefly out of politeness, tor he was still skeptical about the value of the “Egyptian fragments.” But it so happened that he was taken completely by surprise. One of the documents immediately caught his interest, and next morning, after examining . . . he realized that he had stumbled upon a sensational discovery. . . . the discovery has so excited Schechter that he had already begun thinking of traveling to Cairo to acquire whatever remained of the documents. . . . Schechter...

  6. Part II: Urban Hybridities

    • The Anatomy Contraption
      (pp. 159-170)
      Tony Birch

      Inside the Museum of Anatomy

      we may discover bloodless surety

      no distracting heartbeat

      or fluctuating temperatures

      no function life exists

      behind the glass doors

      of anatomy

      for anatomy—

      once sawbones

      part apothecary

      barely a station above the butcher—

      became a precise science

      so exact, it could not be said

      to be a mere skill

      within the glass cubes

      rows of cabinets

      in the numbering and labeling

      within the

      descriptive catalogue

      of the specimens

      in this museum

      treasures come together

      to form a completed text—

      the body

      the museum is guarded

      by a guilded-framed

      shades of grey portrait of

      the long-dead...

    • From Pastiche to Macaroni
      (pp. 171-176)
      Celeste Olalquiaga

      Imán is a beautiful young Latino gay with whom I occasionally party, switching back and forth between the gaps of his second-generation Spanish and my schooled English. Until recently, we had a common ground in that comfortable linguistic mélange where our very opposite experiences of Latino-American and Latin American cultures met, him being a native English speaker with a Latin legacy, me a Latin American brought up speaking English.¹ But the other night that ground shifted right from under me when he greeted me warmly in something that sounded familiar, but of which I could only make out the word...

    • Afro-Kitsch
      (pp. 177-181)
      Manthia Diawara

      The title for this essay comes from Donald John Cosentino, who wrote an article on Afro-kitsch, applying it to African art.¹ I am using it in respect to African-American art and, specifically, in respect to the discourses of Afrocentricity and the kind of work I do myself—literary theory and film theory.

      The wordkitschis often applied to objects that mark signs of indeterminacy: “Is it art or is it kitsch?” Kitsch connotes the banal, the inauthentic, the cheap imitation. Kitsch art is often accused of cutting loose old forms from their social networks and redeploying them in utterly...

    • “Barricades of Ideas”: Latino Culture, Site-Specific Installation, and the U.S. Art Museum
      (pp. 182-196)
      Chon A. Noriega

      Caught between the ironclad ships of two empires, one in decline (Spain), the other emergent (the United States), José Martí codified the culture of imperialism, locating the point of resistance to it in the indigenous, mestizo, and African-descent peoples and cultures of “Our America.”¹ Written in 1891, Martí’s essay is a call to Latin America to become “one in spirit and intent” in the face of both continued imperialism and the impact of “imported methods and ideas” for governance in the newly independent nations. Although Martí died in 1895 fighting Spanish armies in Cuba, his idea persists that anti-imperialism in...

    • Lincoln Highway
      (pp. 197-206)
      Sikivu Hutchinson

      It is a city that is driven through, shuttled past in blazing light and shadow, prey to the tongue of the speedometer. Past the slanting tease of the church steeple, past the gazebo, the barber shop, the faded pomp of town hall, the settlement grid of stop-on-a-dime houses, the motel, awaiting fresh blood. It is a fragment of lost languages, an eternal space of reckoning, the quiet incantation in the lullaby of post-New Deal public policy.

      It is a body that is driven through, unraced, aware of its own peculiar circuit of time; at once within and without the fiction...

    • Hybrid Genres, Performed Subjectivities: The Revoicing of Public Oratory in the Moroccan Marketplace
      (pp. 207-228)
      Deborah A. Kapchan

      Unlike their counterparts in West Africa and South America, female vendors and orators do not have a long history in the Moroccan marketplace. Clifford Geertz asserted that “overall, the bazaar is an emphatically male realm, and so far as Sefrou is concerned there is not a single woman of any real importance in either the trade or the artisan worlds” (1979, 240). When Jean-François Troin noted the increasing participation of women in the markets of the Jbala region of northern Morocco in 1975, he referred to women’s gradual “whittling” at “certain sectors of the commercial sector, usually reserved for men”...

    • Bridge and one: Improvisations of the Public Sphere
      (pp. 229-246)
      Fred Moten

      This essay exists only in the midst of an ongoing performance/ongoing audition of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, and only as the expression of a mimetic, that accompanies and probably overwhelms an analytic, desire. But that’s not quite right. Just trying to be like the Godfather, which is sad and rigorously ambitious and crazy and impossible, creates resonances that will appear as analytic, if soulful, breakdowns of some central oppositions: purity and hybridity, singularity and totality, and, yes, mimesis and analysis. Such resonances are inevitable because such an attempt at covering can’t help but move in another understanding of...

  7. Conclusion. Pushing through the Surface: Notes on Hybridity and Writing
    (pp. 247-252)
    Jennifer Natalya Fink

    In the space carved out by Tony Birch’s poem, the shadowy image of a human figure emerges. Placed dead center on the page, this spectral body—perhaps the body of the impossible, never-born child of whom the poem speak—surface through the intervals between the inky words and the blank spaces of his text. However postmodern, fragmented, urban, and transnational our lives may be, many of us are haunted by the murdered, transplanted, colonized, silenced, illiterate, illegible faces of our ancestors. The writers in this collection push these faces to the surface. They sketch in her eyes. Speak through her...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 253-256)
  9. Permissions
    (pp. 257-258)