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Debating Cultural Hybridity

Debating Cultural Hybridity

Professor Pnina Werbner | Tariq Modood | Homi Bhabha


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Why is it still so difficult to negotiate differences across cultures? In what ways does racism continue to strike at the foundations of multiculturalism? Bringing together some of the world's most influential postcolonial theorists, this classic collection examines the place and meaning of cultural hybridity in the context of growing global crisis, xenophobia and racism. Starting from the reality that personal identities are multicultural identities, Debating Cultural Hybridity illuminates the complexity and the flexibility of culture and identity, defining their potential openness as well as their closures, to show why anti-racism and multiculturalism are today still such hard roads to travel.
Pnina Werbner is professor emerita in social anthropology at Keele University. She is an urban anthropologist who has studied Muslim South Asians in Britain and Pakistan and, more recently, the women’s movement and the Manual Workers Union in Botswana. Tariq Modood is professor of sociology, politics and public policy at the University of Bristol and the founding director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship. His website is
'It is marvellous to see this early collection of classic insightful articles on hybridity published again, with new introductions.' Jan Nederveen Pieterse, University of California, Santa Barbara 'An indispensable classic text for anyone interested in a complex and nuanced analysis of questions of culture, identity and hybridity.' Professor Avtar Brah, Birkbeck University of London, and co-editor of Hybridity and its Discontents 'In the globalised world of the twenty-first century, cultural mixing and ethnic cross-fertilisation is a commonplace experience. Debating Cultural Hybridity offers a superb set of essays to understand the complexity of this experience and its political and social implications.' Ien Ang, University of Western Sydney 'This new edition of Werbner and Modood's Debating Cultural Hybridity is at once timely and insightful. For it arrives at a time when the debate on multiculturalism and racism has become more urgent not just in Europe and in North America, but also in the various parts of the global South that have been the sources for the urgent interrogations of the project of social modernity. It is a must for all people concerned with the burning questions of our current time.' Ato Quayson, University of Toronto 'The reissue of these seminal essays reminds us that the turn to hybridity was never an invitation to celebration, but rather a challenge to think about the necessary conditions for an emancipatory politics. Given the civilizational hierarchy and liberal homogeneity that has informed the racisms of the "war on terror" era, their exploration of the complex task of building anti-racist alliances remains vital.' Gavan Titley, Maynooth University, and Co-Author of The Crises of Multiculturalism 'This work, written by some of the most eminent current social theorists, is even more necessary today than when it was first published. Its approach is timely not only for its content but for what it implies: the need to focus on inter-culture and inter-action approaches, and to recognise new forms of cultural complexity in identities.' Professor Ricard Zapata-Barrero, Pompeu Fabra University, and founder of the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Immigration 'With its prescient, rigorous examination of cultural hybridity and emancipatory politics, this landmark volume still has much to teach us nearly twenty years on. Indeed, reading it again in light of subsequent political developments makes its contribution all the more striking and compelling.' Professor Stephen May, University of Auckland 'The volume continues to be the indispensable guide to hybridity. Many of the contributions to the volume have become classics but their genuine value is that they still allow us to discover elements of a politics of difference that responds to our current conjecture.' Jan Dobbernack, University of Lincoln

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front Cover Front cover
critique influence change i
More Critical Praise for Debating Cultural Hybridity iii
About the Editors iv
Title Page v
Copyright vi
Contents vii
Foreword ix
Preface to the critique influence change edition xiv
Preface to the First Edition xix
Introduction 1
1: Introduction: The Dialectics of Cultural Hybridity 1
The Power of Cultural Hybridity 1
Intentional Hybridities 4
Cyborg Politics 8
The Politics of Hybridity: Cosmopolitans and Transnationals 11
The Power to Name: Hybridity versus Essentialism 16
Mimesis, Crossover and Creativity 19
Conclusion: The Process of Hybridity 20
Notes 23
References 24
Part One: Hybridity, Globalisation and the Practice of Cultural Complexity 27
2: From Complex Culture to Cultural Complexity 29
Introduction 29
Culture as a Complex Whole 31
Criticism of the Complex Whole 32
Prerequisites for a Modified Concept of Culture 36
Culture as the Ability to take Meaningful Intersubjective Action 38
Conclusion 42
Notes 43
References 43
3: The Making and Unmaking of Strangers 46
Disemdedding Into Setting Afloat 49
Dimensions of the Present Uncertainty 50
The Twisting Road to Shared Humanity 54
References 57
4: Identity and Difference in a Globalised World 58
Subjects of Action in a Planetary Society 58
Becoming Individuals 61
The Multiple Self and Responsibility 63
Social Movements as Messages in a Globalized World 66
References 69
5: Global Crises, the Struggle for Cultural Identity and Intellectual Porkbarrelling: Cosmopolitans versus Locals, Ethnics and Nationals in an Era of De-Hegemonisation 70
Introduction 70
Hybridisation and the Culture of Global Elite Formation 72
The Logics of Identity and Identification 82
Global Classes and the Ideology of Hybridity 83
Conclusion 88
Notes 89
References 89
6: ‘The Enigma of Arrival': Hybridity and Authenticity in the Global Space 90
References 104
7: Adorno at Womad: South Asian Crossovers and the Limits of Hybridity-Talk 106
Womad 107
Popular Culture 115
Hybridity-Talk 118
Technology and Hybridity 123
Musical Alliances 128
Notes 134
References 134
Part Two: Essentialism versus Hybridity: Negotiating Difference 137
8: Is It So Difficult to be an Anti-Racist? 139
What is Racism? 141
Is Racism on the Increase? 144
Universalism and Differentialism 147
The Sources of Contemporary Racism and Affirmative Action 149
Racism and Integration 151
Notes 152
References 152
9: ‘Difference’, Cultural Racism and Anti-Racism 154
A New Racism? 154
Anti-Racisms and Asian Identities 156
The Complexities of Racism 160
The Rise of Cultural Racism 164
Indirect Discrimination 166
A More Plural Anti-Racism 168
References 171
10: Constructions of Whiteness in European and American Anti-Racism 173
Introduction 173
The Creation of a White 'Racial' Identity 175
Anti-Racism and the Reification of Whiteness 177
Challenges and Reaffirmations of Anti-Racist Orthodoxy within 'White Studies' 181
Conclusions: Engaging Whiteness 186
Notes 189
References 190
11: Ethnicity, Gender Relations and Multiculturalism 193
Racist Discourse, Ethnic Projects and Cultural Resources 193
Woman and Culture 195
Multiculturalism 197
Feminism, Multiculturalism and Identity Politics 202
Transversal Politics 203
References 206
12: Dominant and Demotic Discourses of Culture: Their Relevance to Multi-Ethnic Alliances 209
Introduction 209
The Dominant Discourse 211
The Demotic Discourse 215
An Ethnographic Example: Negotiating an 'Asian Culture' 217
Conclusions 222
Notes 222
References 224
13: Essentialising Essentialism, Essentialising Silence: Ambivalence and Multiplicity in the Constructions of Racism and Ethnicity 226
Fear of Essentialism 226
Public Arenas and the Self-Imagining of Community 230
Agonistic Moral Panics: The Satanic Verses 231
Racism and Ambivalence 233
The Emergence of a Community of Suffering 235
Moral Communities 238
The Aesthetic Community 240
Essentialising Silence 242
Conclusion 247
Notes 249
References 250
Part Three: Mapping Hybridity 255
14: Tracing Hybridity in Theory 257
Cultural Hybrids and National Reconciliations 259
Hybridity in Colonialism 264
The Semiotics of Hybridity 267
Hybridity in Post-Colonial Theory 273
Notes 279
References 280
Notes on the Contributors 282
Index 286
Back Cover Back cover