{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Hybridity in South Africa - HYBRIDITY IN SOUTH AFRICA FOR...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–16. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
Background image of page 15

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 16
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: HYBRIDITY IN SOUTH AFRICA FOR : PROF. LYNDA LANGE COURSE: PHL2144F/41OF M31 6420 "Coloureds" or mixed—race peoples lead an existence that is on all fronts other. They are other to the whites)other to the Africans (indigenous peoples)>and indeed in a curious way other even to themselves. Mixed-race peoples were set up legally as racially inferior to the whites and superior to the Africans, but in terms of culture they are inferior to both in the sense that they have no clearly defined culture. The whites know themselves racially and culturally, a clear Self; similarly the Africans have a strong sense of their ancient culture and could not but know their racial selves in a country that legislates, stratifies according to race/ethnicity and places them unequivocally irrevocably on the bottom rung. The mixed—races have no sense of their cultural selves. Mixed—race people spend their entire lives denying their connection to the African, a relationship which only serves to weigh them down to the degree that they are visibly connected. And while they seek desperately to play up their connections to the whites, it is an exercise in futility for the whites avoid them like the plague seeing them only as children of shame, reminders of an act better left forgotten. Hated by the Africans, despised by the whites the mixed-race peoples became increasingly alienated from either stable, definite cultural position. Without a stable position culturally they fail all attempts at definition. Self deprecation is the only constant in their lives and becomes woven into the effort to orient, to self—define. Bhabha has given me a new language with which to describe the curious twilight of South African mixed-race existence. Hybrid, as l have come to understand it in Bhabha's writing, describes what emerges from the encounter between the colonizer culture and the culture of the colonized as they meet across the selVother divide. What in human terms emerged from the encounter between the white settlers and the indigenous peoples of South Africa?: the mixed-race peoples. The "coloureds" are the most obvious testament to the process of hybridity, the emergent third space. There is a problem, writes Bhabha, with the way cultural and racial difference is represented. This difference problematically assumes a norm, a type from which to deviate is to be set up as different. This way of seeing difference holds sway in the "colonial periphery"1 where the West sees itself as both a "civilizing mission"2 and as a "violent subjugating force"3. This "ambivalence"4 is woven into the West‘s "practice of authority"5. Bhabha describes colonial ambivalence as "one of the most significant discursive and psychical strategies of discriminatory power"6. Ambivalence carries with it a "force"? that opens the door for the "colonial stereotype"8, giving it sway. It is this "stereotypical discourse"9 that makes possible the "processes of subjectification"10. Terry Eagleton in his The Guardian review of The Location of Culture refers to Bhabha’s writing in which " 'hybridity', 'inbetweeness‘, a culture in permanent transition and incompleteness may be embraced without anxiety or nostalgia. The very process of Bhabha's writing - intricate, thickly-layered, veering from poetry to theory to rhetoric — enacts this dissolving of familiar coordinates."1l Bhabha's agenda it seems to me is to oppose the "essentialism"12 of that View that insists on a "prior given originary culture"13 and to recognize that "all forms of culture are continually in a process of hybridity."'l 4 (italics mine) The "coloureds", perennial occupants of Bhabha's third space, is that culture which I feel is most obviously embraced by the process of hybridity. The "third space" as used by Bhabha is discussed by lain Chambers in his article "Signs of Silence, Lines of Listening“. Chambers points out that through the recognition of other peoples, their languages, physicality, histories, ways of dwelling in areas formerly deemed outside the movement of progress that the awareness of their participation in the history and culture of the first world and the awareness of the degree to which they contribute to both national and individual identity in our psychic and social selves"15, has emerged. This is what it means to "engage" in the third space. An important point to keep in mind about Bhabha is that he feels he is describing what already is, not foretelling what will be. Bhabha recognizes a radical shift in the familiar sign posts which shape our conception of reality. Migration is emerging as the norm rather than the exception it once was. Specifically, there is a tendency for peoples of less fortunate countries to make a bee—line for the more prosperous west. "Transition and incompleteness” are no longer rarities or anomalies or intermittent occurences but have emerged as permanent features of our modern world. Bhabha‘s work is relevant to me, a peripheral South African of the mixed-race peoples, because he describes what is happening on the periphery, to the periphery. I have also found that the relationship shared by the colonizer and the colonized and the way the colonized is shaped and affected by "the practice of authority“, "stereotypical discourse" is similar in many ways to the situation in South Africa between the "coloureds" and the whites. Oppressed "coloured" culture in South Africa is such that passing is a small awkward door available to the "coloureds", a door that one must contort oneself to squeeze through into the land of plenty, the catch being that once contorted the "passer" becomes an abomination to the people on either side of the door. It soon becomes clear that it is a curse to move through the door. The Africans on the other hand had no such door. There are many differences between the two scenarios but the language of "hybridity", "inbetweeness" is still one of the best I have thus far encountered to give voice to this situation. Alot of work has been done in the areas of class and gender differentiation but their findings, as Bhabha points out, do not readily apply to the "problematic representation of cultural and racial difference."16 Indeed, Bhabha charts a "move away from the singularities of 'class' or 'gender' as primary conceptual and organizational categories."17 Bhabha makes the point that colonial discourse revolves on the "recognition and disavowal of racial/cultural/historical differences."18 The whites of South Africa, their cultural/racial prejudices, their lawbooks filled with legislated hate, created the hybrid culture they referred to as "coloureds". The mixed—races were forced onto consciousness of their difference by the hostile differentiating or "individuating" gaze/word of the whites. Hybridity and its relevance for me as a victim of Apartheid hangs on the following quote: "Hybridity is a problematic of colonial representation and individuation that reverses the effects of the colonialist disavowal, so that other 'denied' knowledges enter upon the dominant discourse and estrange the basis of its authority — its rules of recognition“'l9 The rules of recognition are "those social texts of epistemic, ethnocentric, nationalist intelligibility which cohere in the address of authority as the ‘present', the voice of modernity."20 A significant feature of Bhaba's thinking in his opposition to binary opposites, "cultures are never unitary in themselves, nor simply dualistic in the relation of self to other." 21 Even in the peculiar relationship shared by the self and the other, the colonizer and the colonized there is seepage. One spills into the other despite, perhaps hastened by, all the efforts to keep them divided. All that is achieved by the concerted efforts to keep the poles apart is an obfuscation of their union, a blurring of the points at which they map onto each other. Hybridity belies the merging of the dominant discourse and the subordinate culture. Binary opposites are at the heart of the Afrikaaner fantasy/myth of Africa. Bhabha, agreeing with Said says that "myths of western power and knowledge...confine the colonized and dispossessed to a half-life of misrepresentation and migration". Afrikaaners believe firmly in their own superiority and loathe the thought of tainting their purity with mixture. They are empowered too by the belief that they are God's chosen people and that the canaanites, the drawers of water and hewers of wood, were chosen to be subjugated by them. Their world is divided neatly between the dominant white self and the subordinate Black other. The people of mixed race offend their sense of right, blur the dividing line, and place a lie at the center of their myth. Bhabha's idea is that once inside the "dominant discoursd'ZZ the hybrid begins to "estrange"23 the "rules of recognition"24 which forms the “basis" of the colonial "authority." The "coloured" people despite the "disavowal" of the Afrikaaner developed a culture, using the language of the oppression, the only language they know, that represented everything foul and wrong in the system of beliefs that emerged politically as Apartheid. The mixed-race peoples of South Africa became pawns in the system of Apartheid. While the mixed race peoples have always existed, their history is as old as the history of European colonization in Southern Africa, they only became a community in 1948, assuming a position that would shape their identity for generations to come. In 1948 with the ascendancy of the nationalist party apartheid legislation brought forth the definition of the mixed—race peoples or "coloureds" thus creating them as a community with a common destiny. While the governing power in South Africa ruled the country directly with incredible military force, it also violated the subjugated with its peculiar strategies of indirect rule. The mixed-race peoples assumed a role similar to that of the "traditional elites"25 in more conventional instances of colonization. The "subject races"26 are known to be "abnormal" Z7 and subsequently "individualized“28 by, scientific observation, sociological anthropological studies. They are "individualized" as being so "divergent" in terms of their intelligence, their sense of right and wrong that they would never achieve equivalent status, they would never achieve "integration or independence,"29 never to be recognized as fully human. “Racist typologies and racist stereotypes"30 are then draped over the shoulders of the colonial subject to be carried back into the system, marked no matter what. The "elite" of this sub—culture are then drawn into the system, the "ambitious life- instinct of the native“31 utilized. By drawing the "traditional elites" into the "colonial administration"32 the natives become more "visible", open to greater "surveillance, tabulation, enumeration, and indeed paranoia and fantasy."33 Colonial power is attempting to situate, fixedly, the native as other and yet keep the native close enough to Keep an eye on. The apartheid architects utilized the phenomenon of the mixed race peoples in a similar way. They created neat buffer zones between the small white population and massive, seething African population. The buffer zone geographical, socially, culturally were the "coloureds." They encouraged false expectation, false hope in the hearts of the mixed-race peoples. Misleading them to the extent that they seperated themselves from the slightly (or so it was made to seem) more oppressed African population. The "system of representation,"34 the "regime of truth"35 that was offered up by the scientists loyal to the apartheid vision revealed incontrovertible proof that the Africans were a subspecies, a fixed truth, and the coloureds were redeemable if they had enough white blood - never realizing that it would never be enough. The bizarre schizophrenia which grips the mixed-race community on the whole is a testament to the effectiveness of the "truths" as they were swallOWed wholesale by the community. In an interview Bhaba explains the concept of the third space and its relation to the concept of Hybridity: “...if the act of translation (both as representation and as reproduction) denies the essentialism of a prior given originary culture, then we see that all forms of culture are continually in a process of hybridity. But for me the importance of hybridity is not to be able to trace two original moments from which the third emerges, rather hybridity to me is the third space which enables other positions to emerge"36 The mixed—race peoples of South Africa could be considered simplistically as the hybrid mixture of "two original moments"37 the Afrikaaner white settlers and the various African black natives: hybrid of black and white. In truth there is no "black“ culture nor is there a "white" culture. The African tribes are many and varied and the Afrikaaners a mix of Dutch, German, French and yes even an admixture of African though this would never be freely admitted. The proces of hybridity is very obvious in South Africa and it has, as a monument, a ll people who define themselves as essentially hybrid: the "coloureds." Bhaba's point seems to be that no culture today, perhaps ever, can claim originary status. My point is that the mixed—race peoples of South Africa have their hybridity written all over their faces. They cannot even attempt to claim originary status; they are obviously hybrid while say the Zulus of Natal are less obviously so. The mixed-race peoples were/are the primary dynamic within the third space. This third space as | see it is peopled by all South African's who have moved beyond the binarism of apartheid. There are certain recalcitrant pockets in both the white and the black camps who still believe in seperate development, as apqrtheid was euphemistically referred to, but many South Africans rightfully recognize and embrace their own hybridity. Hybridity is a phenomenon that occurs when cultures meet; the result of cultural osmosis, a cultural give and take. It is not something that can be avoided, but it can be denied. "Coloureds" are the only racial group incapable of denying their hybridity. Both their racial and cultural hybridity are enacted daily, undeniably. Often reviled by the two dominant groups — one politically the other culturally - the mixed-race peoples nevertheless were/are an important testament to the race lie at the heart of the Afrikaaner myth which buttressed the argument for Apartheid. While surely the existence of the "mixed-race“ community could not be said to have brought down Apartheid. Mixed race existence penetrated deep into the psyche of the white establishment, witness the wife of P.W. Botha, state president before DeKlerk, describing "coloureds" as a serious stumbling block to the full realization of Apartheid, calling the coloureds shameful - a projection of her own white shame. President after president was told by their advisors to "deal" with the "coloured " problem because it was proving to be a real thorn in the side of the Apartheid regime, and an obstruction to achieving their goal. The mixed-race community then on an important unconscious as well as conscious level enabled the revisionary position that was adopted by DeKlerk and his generation, the position which eventually led to the fall of Apartheid, to emerge. i would like to end this correlation between Bhabha's analysis of the relation betwen the colonizer and the colonized and my own understanding of the relation between the apartheid regime and a segment of the oppressed black community commonly referred to as "coioureds" (the mixed-race peoples of South Africa) by focusing on one significant tool in the oppressors bag of tricks. The tool or technique utilizes the notion of beauty as well as the place its definition holds in ll I3 society; and its effects on the psyche of the oppressed. By means of the "colonial stereotype," the objective of colonial discourse is to construe the colonized as a population of degenerate types on the basis of racial origin, in order to justify conquest and to establish systems of admininstration and instruction." Under the Apartheid regime any aspect of a persons physical appearance which suggested a racial connection to African blood was considered a sign of degeneracy. The pencil test a typically Apartheid version fo scientific proof was to place a pencil into the hair of the individual and should the pencil fall then one's hair, at least, was deemed satisfactorily European or white. Similarly ridiculous scientific experiments were devised to determine if ones skin colour, the shape of ones head, even the way a person walked, could draw a connection between a person and the African blood that could potentially be lurking with or without knowledge in the blood stream. Bhabha refers to these scientific documents as part of the "social text" which form the basis of the rules of recognition. The discourse of the apartheid regime flog—59mm able to stygmatize the appearance of any who even slightly resembled the "look" of the African. The "look" of the African, the ultimate degenerate type, became the look of someone who deserved to be oppressed, to receive less. Through repitition of this Apartheid l4 stereotype gradually the truth and the rightnes of this view sank into the belief systems of most coloureds and even large segments of the vastly more populous African communities. The Apartheid regime made the "look" of whiteness synonymous with privilege, intelligence, goodness, cleanliness, with virtue; and systematically, on many propoganda fronts, made the "look" of blackness the "reason" for the low socio-economic status of the African, the "reason" for their lack of intelligence, their lawlessness, and every other ill affecting Blacks and South Africa generally. Even as the spuriousness of the efforts to stygmatize the "look" of the African became ridiculously obvious people who had the "look" could not help thinking less of themselves and placing themselves subconsciously on the lower levels of the social heirarchical scale according to the degree of their African appearance or "look". This technique turned in on itself as the young, realizing the fulility of ever trying to fit in to the definition of whiteness, began to openly and with increasing revolutionary passion, embrace the "look" of blackness. The pride associated with those who could claim a close racial connection to Africa fed the machine of insurrection as it emerged in the "coloured" townships. Mixed-race youth began to turn en masse to the philosophy of Black Consciousness leader fixed truth, and the coloureds blood - never realizing that it schizophrenia which grips the testament to the effectivene wholesale by the community. In an interview Bhaba e its relation to the concept 01 "...if the act of translation (bc essentialism of a prior given are continually in a process 1 not to be able to trace two Oi hybridity to me is the third 5; The mixed-race peoples of S simplistically as the hybrid r Afrikaaner white settlers an of black and white. in truth "white" culture. The A...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}