[Colonial & Postcolonial Theory]

The Performative and Processual: A Study of Hypertext/Postcolonial Aesthetic

Unitary Subject-- Hypertextual/Postcolonial Subject

Part One: Cultural Identity and Cultural Displacement

Jaishree K. Odin, University of Hawaii at Manoa

In Framer Framed, Trinh Minh-Ha sees the borderlines at which the hybrid subjectivity lies as constantly dissolving and re-forming, revealing a place that is "always emerging" and "always in the making" She does not want to identify with any one definition of the borderlands, instead she wants 'to play with it, or to play it like a musical score," so that identity is "not an end point in struggle, " it is rather "a point of departure" (1992:140). Trinh notes the strategic importance of the identity claim, and the importance of all three -- the political, historical and cultural -- in any self understanding. Strategies of reversal she posits are ineffective without strategies of displacement. Recognition of the shifting nature of cultural identity makes the notion of cultural displacement very important in postcolonial discourse. Displacement creates a dynamic where "[each] itinerary taken, each reading constructed is at the same time active in its uniqueness and reflective in its collectivity" (1991:23). Therefore, "the notion of displacement is also a place of identity: there is no real me to return to, no whole self that synthesizes the woman, the woman of color and the writer; there are only diverse recognition of self through difference, and unfinished, contingent, arbitrary closures that make possible both politics and identity" (1992:157).

Homi Bhabha further elaborates upon the theme of cultural displacement and connects it to broader issues of cultural identity and national identity. He notes there is a tension between the pedagogical, the national narrative that fixes people as objects with claims to historical origins, and the processual, which marks the people as subjects performing their own narratives in the day to day acts of living. In the creation of this split space, "the conceptual ambivalence of modern society become the site of writing the nation." The repetitious and recursive nature of the processual appears as cultural displacement where repetition at different sites is accompanied with difference, so that any homogenizing descriptions are impossible. The people are poised at the seam of difference between the "totalizing powers of the social as homogenous, consensual community" and the contestory forces of disparate interest and identities. The nation space then "becomes liminal signifying space that is internally marked by the discourses of minorities, the heterogeneous histories of contending peoples, antagonistic authorities and tense location of cultural difference" (1994: 145-148). From the interstitial spaces marked by the processual arise "the minority discourses that speak betwixt and between times and places" (1994: 158).

Postcolonial OV PoCo Theory Themes