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The Concept Of Cultural Hybridity Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 3117 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The divisions among scholars on Globalization and hybridity seem to be flamboyant and open to the public, most scholars disagree on the meaning of the concepts and what constitute those paradigms. To some, globalization has made the world more interconnected, that the world is seen as small village where the flow good and people have accelerated to new levels, and the directions of movement have multiplied and abandoned what was known to be the norms. In this time people are free to move from place to place with less restriction than before, goods are transported easily from one region of the world to the other, and in this context globalization is seen as yielding the pleasures of cultural hybridity for the swarming multitudes. Moreover, globalization explains new forms of social and cultural organization with ambition to transcend the boundaries of the nation-state, and it’s seek to provide new views for understanding cultural flows that can no longer be explained by a homogenous Eurocentric narrative of development and social change (Papastergiadis :abstract). In addition, globalization is viewed as an old phenomenon in the 20th and 21st century. As argued that globalization has been evident throughout history, some evidence may be more apparent than others. However, the prevalence of a global political, economic, and social infrastructure on an international level has been established before the 20th century.

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Furthermore, the intensity and the coverage of globalization have dramatically increased over the period of the late 20th and 21st centuries. An immense amount of attention has been directed towards the different notions and implications of globalization, ranging from the economic sphere (an international economy, and the evidence of the rapid spread of the capitalist market relations), to the social sphere (‘global culture’) and to the political sphere (international political community, ex. United Nations, and international relations amongst different countries).

There is a clear indication that the world population migration is increasing every day, a common observation on how these movements of people and increased number of immigration and migrants in the West and else-where, is display mixed cultural patterns. As an example cited by Pieterse on separation between and, next, a mix of a home culture and language (matching the culture of origin) and an outdoor culture (matching the culture of residence), as in the combination “for instance, Muslim in the day time, disco in the evening” (Pieterse, 56). This demonstrate what Pieterse called “the global mélange” due to global hybridity (The outcomes of globalization), the world is shirking. The hybridization and mélange of culture is an outcome of the global capitalist economy (multinational corporations play a major part in promoting their ideologies). Latin based singers such as Ricky Martin and Shakira are now crossing over to English speaking markets and are mixing English and Latin lyrics. The future will bring the world together culturally through the interdependence amongst the political economic and cultural spheres. In Thailand and in Malaysia temples stand in close proximity alongside mosques. “Mexican schoolgirls dressed in Greek togas dancing in the style of Isadora Dunchan” reflects transnational bourgeois class affinities, mirroring themselves in classical European culture. Furthermore, the mélange (mix) of religions is also evident in many countries. A Japanese girl wearing her traditional outfit and carrying a Louis Vuitton purse can be seen walking down the street. Some economists recognize globalization as being in the best interest of all states, while others believe that increasingly liberated trade and global economic interaction is detrimental in various ways.

However, scholars who see globalization as a form of cultural imperialism over the wretched of the earth argue that globalization appeals to advocates of hybridity as diverse because it seems to harmonize the universal and the particular and, in the process; it seems to open up to a multiplicity of cultural relationships unheard of in the age of empire (Gikandi 2000:629). As it’s argued by Peter Marcuse and David Wilson that globalization is the major force to which national and local cultural agents conform. Marcuse in addition adds that leaders in the United States promote a regime culture that reinforces the power of the regime at both national and global scales. His analysis of the manner in which the International Freedom Center at the World Trade Center was handled illustrates the underlying economic interests of this regime culture and the detrimental effects this has on the humanist sense of culture, an effect induced by globalization and which Marcuse labels “instrumentalized” (K. Archer et al.:10), to the effect that ‘globalization is a declaration of war on all other cultures’ (K. Archer et al.)

Hybridity is another topic of discussion that seems to divide scholars on it meaning and it impact on culture. ). Understanding the history of the term Hybridity can help one analysis its meaning and impact on culture, Papastergiadis, presents the inconsistency of the notion of hybridity. The concept bears uncomfortable suggestions of and references to notions of racial purity, and its source seems to be attached from nineteen century ideologies euro centrists. Contemporary postmodern and post-colonial studies on hybridity regard this concept as an indicator that current practices of identity need to be conceptualized in a manner that refutes essentialist portrayals of the ways in which individuals, groups, and collectivities locate themselves. Sajed states that “hybridity can be defined as the process that involves a mixture or a combination of two different elements, which results in a third element that claims a difference from either of the two terms”. He went further with the example Singlish a language spoken in Singapore, which is comprised of English modulated by particular accents, words, and expressions coming from various dialects of Malay and from Chinese. While Singlish is a mixture of different languages, it is quite different from either the English language or from the particular Chinese and Malay dialects. In these respects, it is an illustration of hybridity.

Moreover, there are other meaning associated with hybridity. For instance, in cultural studies, hybridity denotes a wide register of multiple identity, cross-over, pick-‘n’-mix, boundary-crossing experiences and styles, matching a world of growing migration and diaspora lives, intensive intercultural communication, everyday multiculturalism and erosion of boundaries (Pieterse, 2001:221) For some cultural theorists, hybridity represents a constant process of translation and interpenetration between cultures and identities (Anthias, 2001: 625). For others, it represents more than that; it signifies the inherently trans-gressive potential of the colonial subject in the face of the expression of Colonial power. For Bhabha (1998) hybridity takes place in conditions of inequality, during the attempted imposition of culturally hegemonic practices (quoted by Grabham 2006). Moreover, Hybridity happens at the point at which colonial authority fails to fix the colonial subject in its gaze. It denotes the equivocal space that the colonial subject occupies; a space neither of assimilation nor of collaboration. Furthermore, it is argue by Bhabha (1994) that hybridity “unsettles the mimetic or narcissistic demands of colonial power but re-implicates its identifications in strategies of subversion that turn the gaze of the discriminated back upon the eye of power” (p. 112 as cited in Grabham 2006:18).

Besides, hybridity is known as a site of struggle, deconstruction and resistance to dominating culture. Hybridity is referred to by Pieterse (1994) as “intercultural brokers in the interstices between nation and empire, producing counter narratives from the nation’s margins to the totalizing boundaries of the nations. At the same time, refusing nostalgic models of pre-colonial purity, hybridity, by way of mimicry, may conform to the hegemonized rewriting of the Eurocentre” (Pieterse 1994:161)

Moreover, Bhabha explores hybridity in the context of the postcolonial novel, celebrating it as the resilience of the “subaltern” and as the contamination of imperial ideology, aesthetics, and identity, by natives who are striking back at imperial domination. He emphasizes hybridity’s ability to subvert and re-appropriate dominant discourses. Therefore, Bhabha affirms that, “The social articulation of difference, from the minority perspective, is a complex, ongoing negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridity that emerge in moments of historical transformation” (quoted in Kraidy 2002: 319-320)

Hybridity is associated with the effects of multiple cultural attachments on identity or the process of cultural mixture. Both the effects and processes of mixture can also lead to a critical form of consciousness. According to Papastergiadis, there are three levels of hybridity which are interrelated. At the first level, hybridity refers to the visible manifestation of difference within identity as a consequence of the incorporation of foreign elements. (Papastergiadis 2005:40). Second level, hybridity is refers to the process by which cultural differences are either naturalized or neutralized within the body of the host culture. It is argued by Pieterse, that the degree to which this process of cultural mixture or hybridization has been consciously utilized has varied over time (Papastergiadis 2005:40). And finally the third level of hybridity according to postcolonial theorists which has been used as a perspective for representing the new critical and cultural practices that have emerged in diasporic life. For instance, Ien Ang has explained how the mixed origins and multiple attachments of a hybrid identity also produce a critical form of consciousness (2001: 194). In some instant hybridity served as a counterpoint to the idealist categories that confined creativity to either closed forms of tradition or universal forms of abstraction. Papastergiais’ argues “unlike essentialist theories that claim that cultural identity is rooted in a particular landscape and locked into atavistic values, the concept of hybridity was used to shift attention towards the acknowledgement of the process of mixture and the effects of mobility on contemporary culture”.( Papastergiadis 2005:41)

In contrast, other scholars seem to be critical of Hybridity as a neocolonial dialogue complicit with transnational capitalism, covered in an attire of cultural theory but heavily influenced by Western norms and formats, and newly created local cultural products are rather representing Western culture, instead of unique local culture. There was also a growing backlash against the concept of hybridity by social and cultural theorists which coincided with resurgence in neo-nationalistic ideologies and the fragmentation of the nascent forms of multiculturalism in Western states. Pieterse

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Dirlik’s critical observation is that hybridity is “in actuality quite an elusive concept that does not illuminate but rather renders invisible the situations to which it is applied not by concealing them, but by blurring distinctions among widely different situations”. He goes on to elaborate, “If hybridity is indeed pervasive, it is in and of itself meaningless if everything is hybrid, then there is no need for a special category of hybrid”(Leander 2005:13).

After fastening the slippery idea of hybridity, Kraidy moves on to apply the concept to media globalization. He argues that hybridity is the key to understanding the proliferation of media globalization in the age of free trade. First he defines media globalization as corporate trans-culturalism where a media company, even American, thrives on freedom of cultural production and consumption that, in turn, thrives on cultural hybridization. (195). The business strategies of “format adaptation” and localization by global media companies such as MTV, CNN, News Corp, and BBC bring together the cultural and political economic aspects of hybridity that is dominated by western values.

Moreover, scholars argue that one of the consequences of cultural globalization is the construction of hybrid identities. For instance, Kraidy demonstrates the phenomenon of cultural hybridization in the case of Christian Maronite Lebanese youth constituting Arab and Western cultural identities. With the proliferation of global media companies in Lebanon, the youth in the country were exposed to hybrid media texts that are a product of the localization of Western media products and format adaptation of local television series with dominant hybrid components reflecting Western lifestyle and consumption albeit with traditional sensibilities. The hybrid media texts such as the first locally produced television series on Lebanon TV, The Storm Blows Twice, simultaneously work with traditional Arab values and Western modernity but western values are seen to be governing even at local level. In the same contest, Kumar seem to explore the implications of transnational television networks in Indian. While discussing the spread of a consumerist culture, “nationalism” and “electronic capitalism,” on and through Indian television, Kumar uses the “hybridization” argument to dispel notions of what he terms an “artificial” choice between “tradition” and “modernity” which he attributes to the legacies of “western colonialism” and “postcolonial nationalism” (p.118). as she argues “the colonial distinctions of print-capitalism such as the colonized and the colonizer, inside and outside, us and them have been blurred by the rapid growth of electronic capitalism, and a new generation of media elites have mobilized television to articulate hybrid imaginations of identity and difference to idealized notions of Indian nationalism “(p.2).

Likewise, In Korean cinema, the hybridization process has been active since the late 1990s when Shiri the first Korean blockbuster movie funded by Samsung was made into a box-office hit. From that period, many Korean production companies and directors have one after another tried to produce and even copy Hollywood style action movies. As one film critic points out (Choi 2005), “the Korean cinema headed for Hollywood style blockbusters as if the globalization of domestic films lies in the copy of Hollywood.” Heather Tyrrell (1999) points out, theorization around cinema and globalization has largely been structured in terms of a basic opposition between Western commercial and culturally imperialist cinema, and the Third World’s non-commercial, indigenous, and politicized national cinema concerns the lives and struggle of people in the nation, while entertainment predominates in Hollywood’s commercial themes, including action, horror, Western and comedy. Korean cinemas in style present us with typical example of globalization and culture hybridity, because it successfully made a mixture of two different cultures between Korean history and Hollywood techniques and skills. In short, one can claim that hybridity does not necessarily imply conciliatory and harmonious forms of cultural transformation; it can also sharp the critique of the disruptive and exclusionary structures of global culture. Critics who expect indigenous artists to confine their cultural imagination to the territorial boundaries and ancestral techniques of their homelands will be forever disappointed and disapproving of hybridity

From this perspective, Tomlinson (1999) argues that “hybridity is not just a metaphor for cultural negotiation; it is also a tool for examining the inequalities and exclusion that are established in the guise of cultural purity. It is more useful to track the way the power of hegemonic forces is felt within hybridity which is none the less experienced as having its own independent cultural power” (Tomlinson, 1999: 146-7). If culture represents the meanings, ways of action, and ways to evaluate the value of actions in a society and if cultural hybridity entails a change in those meanings and actions, then attention ought to be paid to hybridity’s ability or inability to empower social groups to have influence over the course of their lives. (p. 151).

While we have both arguments on what Globalization means and what it constitute, and we have enough information on hybridity in global world, one need to analyze and ask questions on where and under what conditions cultural hybridity, translation, inflection, deflection, and so on, is inherently destabilizing and disruptive of the cultural powers of the nation state and neo-liberal capitalism? Do they (globalization and hybridity) represent the experiences of the “post-national” postgraduate middle to upper middle class experience (Toor, 2000), or do they reflect the conditions of the vast majority of global migrants who are both desperately poor and dangerously vulnerable (Hondagneu-Setolo, 2001; Parrenas, 2001)? Bhabha presumes that the trans-nationals and the migrants produce “contra modernity”. In answering these questions one should take seriously the concept of cultural hybridization and its associated cultural politics of globalization. As Ahmed argues that this condition has been enabled precisely because of its complicity with the transnational capitalist class which privileges the position of elite migrants, similar to Bhabha’s arguments and extended to Pieterse’s hybridization model. Appadurai’s view of globalization is a disjunctive flows which is open to the criticism that on the whole it tends to ignore ongoing and in many cases worsening gender, race, and class exploitations which are generated by neo-liberal capitalism (Bond, 2006). Hybridity in this framework is therefore grounded in the neo-liberal ideology driving the current stage of globalization, with its relentless push towards opening new markets dismantling state barriers to market expansion, and widespread consumerism.


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