blog post essay I wrote a few years ago, introducing Edward Saids concept of Orientalism for students as well as general readers. (As a side note, biographers have pointed out that part of Kiplings tendency to mock highly educated Indians may have been motivated by his anxiety about his own lack of a college education.) Interestingly, as Kipling continues in his description he seems to grow more. In colonial writing, hybridity was clearly less important in many ways than mimicry. But he also clearly had in mind the idea that American poets with no connection to South Asia or the Middle East might start to think of the Ghazal as an English-language form they might adapt for themselves, like a Villanelle or a Sonnet.
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Culture, defined in terms of art, music, fashion, cuisine, and so on, might be the broadest and perhaps also the easiest place to think about hybridity. Over the course of the long history of British colonialism in India, quite a number of Indian words entered British speech, first amongst the white Anglo-Indians, but over time these words entered the English language more broadly. James Joyces Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has a famous example of anxiety about the status of English. The Indian writer Salman Rushdie and African writers like Ben Okri have experimented with modes of storytelling that blend local traditions and folk culture with experimental (postmodernist) ideas. Still, Forsters novel also shows the sharp limits placed on the cultural interaction between Indians and sympathetic Englishmen at the time he was writing. For Achebes Okonkwo, his son Nwoyes conversion to Christianity is seen as a loss and as a form of subservience to foreign cultural values. What I propose to do here is define these complex terms, mimicry and hybridity, in plain English, using references from specific cultural contexts, as well as the literature itself. See more on "reverse mimicry" below.) Though mimicry is a very important concept in thinking about the relationship between colonizing and colonized peoples, and many people have historically been derided as mimics or mimic-men, it is interesting that almost no one ever describes themselves. Bhabha notes that despite the fact that local Indians under a tree, outside Delhi, readily accept the authority of the Missionarys Book. The effect is killing. Another way of thinking about literary hybridity relates to postcolonial literatures response to the Western Tradition (the Canon). As a general rule then, cultural hybridity under colonialism seems to be a close cousin of mimicry.
Something similar might be said of a new immigrant in England or the United States: there is strong pressure to quickly acculturate to the norms of the place where one lives, which sometimes entails curbing a thick accent or changing ones dress styles or habits. Gandhi took symbols of Indian asceticism and simplicity (such as traditional Indian dress and fabric) along with progressive western concepts of socialism, and used that new fusion of ideas to mobilize the masses of ordinary Indians, most of whom had had little direct contact with. Forster, in A Passage to India, clearly admires the way many ambitious Indians in the latter days of the British Raj were able to use the English language and make it their own. Jean Rhyss Caribbean-centered version of Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, which explores the back-story of the white Caribbean Creole Bertha Mason. Today, the norm amongst most scholars, which I agree with, is to deemphasize biological or genetic race in favor of culture. I submit that those who can do the work of extending the frontiers of English so as to accommodate African thought-patterns must do it through their mastery of English and not out of innocence ( Chinua Achebe ) Works by people who have incomplete mastery. The goal in invoking "religious hybridity is not to pose people who practice a local religion as "pure while those who may have converted might be seen as hybrids.