The whole view of Post-Colonialism, as an academic discipline, stands against the notion ofSocial Darwinism that has emerged in the imperialist regimes. More specifically, it sheds the light on basic key terms that may better define Man’s issues of nowadays; Diaspora, Hybridity, and Cultural Identity. In fact, they are, highly, interrelated in a sense that they pave the way for a clear comprehension of the Alienated “ Other”.
Diaspora is a phenomenon discussed more often in the age of globalization. It is, always, associated with the term:” Migration”. As a primordial definition of the latter, it has been, often, described as any population sharing common ethnic identity. It rather refers to the involuntary movement, or away from an established or ancestral homeland ( Cohen, 1997). In other words, it is a synonym for displacement, scattering, travel, home, and borders. Chris Barker, on the other hand, gave another dimension to Diaspora by referring to its dynamic feature as a social and political way of remembrance. He says:
“ Diasporas are formed as networks comprised of transnational identifications that encompass ‘imagined’ communities and as such are often engaged in the politics and social dynamics of remembrance and commemoration.” ( Chris : 51)
In general, The idea of Diaspora signifies a major key term in the Post-Colonial and the Subaltern Studies, which is basically; “ Alienation”. If one wants to take a look at the past, it will be obvious to notice that it is, definitely, the aftermath of the colonial period in the previous colonies. Therefore, Diaspora populations are, now, “ At the heart of the western cultures”. History, once again, is an eye witness of these kinds of movements: Firstly, there is the expulsion of the Jews from Judea. Second, the fleeing of the Greeks from Constantinople. Third, the Diaspora of the Irish people after the great famine. And last but not least, the displacement of the Syrian people, along with their Palestinian neighbors during the twentieth and the twenty first century.
Diaspora, according to William Safran, a professor of political science at the University of Colorado, can be differentiated from migrant communities due to these basic rules:
In order to call them Diaspora populations, they should maintain a myth or a collective memory of their homeland. Specifically, they regard their ancestral homeland as their true home, to which they will, eventually, return. Moreover, the fact of being committed to the restoration or maintenance of that homeland will create a personal link to it, to a point where it shapes their identity. However, identity under the umbrella of globalization, basically, connotes the meaning of conflict, indeterminacy, or contingency. As a matter of fact, this view is quite accurate when it comes to the African American writers and poets such: Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. For instance, in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, the idea of memory and folklore were wondering throughout the whole novel, while accentuating the importance of the intangible cultural heritage of the blacks. By that, Morrison wanted to exhibit the African identity in motion rather than a pure abstraction of a cultural phenomenon.
Gilroy, describes the concept of identity as “ Involving routes rather than roots”. In other words, “ A changing same of the Diaspora”, which will, automatically, lead to the Deleuzian theory of “Becoming”.
Undeniably, any cultural exchange within any type of Diaspora ( Black Diaspora, Arab Diaspora, Jews Diaspora, etc..) will produce hybrid identities that oscillate between the range of similarities and the range of differences ( Always in comparison with the motherland). But firstly, what is hybridity?
Indisputably, the term was first used within the scientific sphere. To be more accurate, its basic field of study was in Biology. However, in the nineteenth century, it was introduced in linguistics and in racial theory. During the 1990’s, this concept has become part of the vocabulary of the Cultural Studies field. It is, often, associated with globalization, post-colonialism, and Diaspora cultures. Barker describes it as such, he says:
“At its core, hybrdity involves the mixing together of previously discrete cultural elements to create new meanings and identities. Indeed, the notion of hybridity has played a significant part in destabilizing the very idea of an unchanging culture that has secure locations since hybrids destabilize and blur established cultural boundaries in a process of fusion or creolization.” ( Chris : 89)
Through this quotation, it can be observed that hybridiy is the result of “ miscegenation”, which means ” mixed race”. Besides, Barker has distinguished two types of hybridization: Firstly, there is the “structural hybridization” to which it refers to the notion of diversity of the social sites of hybridity. Secondly, cultural hybridization is, exactly, the blending of elements from different cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, its existence in a homogenous society is merely impossible for it can be translated into a sample, yet relevant equation: An increase in hybridity paves the way to an increase in diversity. Back to the seventeenth century, cities of great kingdoms such as Great Britain( London) and the Netherlands( Amsterdam) were identified as a representation of an amalgamation of different races, ethnic minorities, etc.. David Theo Coldberg has mentioned the two concepts of heterogeneity and hybridity under the flag of the colonial legacy and the slogan of post-colonial heresy. He says:
“ The transformation of medieval city-states into modern states brought increasing urban heterogeneity, even in racial terms. So colonizing cities like Amsterdam and London began to see diversity in their populations as early as the seventeenth century that at the same time has been virtually ignored in mainstream historical studies. » ( David :74)
This quotation raises a fundamental question, where it remains to be seen whether hybrid identities can be labeled as supplements or complements for the host cultures?
Unquestionably, it should be stressed that Coldberg has mentioned in his article that segregation was taken under consideration as a fatal weapon of protection from hybridity. He says:
“As Bakhtinsuggests, authoritarian language – epistemologically, disciplinarily, politically – is necessarily antihybrid as it depends upon the singularity and static fixity of meaning, the insistence of the given and ordered, the silencing of voice(s) at odds with the authorial power ». ( David : 81)
Building on this quotation, for the imperialist regimes, strict measurements should be taken for the purpose of decreasing the mixture of races, and thus, preserving “ purity”. In the past, or even nowadays, it is more accurate to speak of implementing segregation through laws, educational systems, media, etc.. In other words, the super structure, as Gramsci would call it, is the real deal when it comes to control and manipulation. Another quotation from Coldberg while highlighting hybridity’s problem, he says:
“Colonialism, John Comaroff has made abundantly clear in a scintillating rethinking of the colonial state (Comaroff, 1998), was about managing heterogeneity, dealing with difference through imposition and restriction, regulation and repression. » ( David : 82)
How can we understand post-colonial culture? Homi K. Bhabha holds the answer for the “rhetoric development of hybridity” in his text: ‘ The Location of Culture’( 1994). He discussed how one should conceive of a person’s identity and how this affects theories of post-colonial culture. Bhabha challenged the idea that an individual’s identity is, simply, the result of fixed factors such as: Education, gender, or race. Instead, he argued that individuals can only be described through cultural hybridity. To see an individual’s real self, Bhabha argued one must look past “ their logical contradictions and taboo” that come from this mix. Instead, one must accept the ambivalence or inner conflicts inherent to humans. He, also, adds that post-colonial cultures are, extremely, complex. He described them as” mixing cultural and linguistic imitations of the colonial power with pre-existing traditional customs”. Therefore, he emphasized that post-colonial theories should focus on this hybridity and cosmopolitanism. If instead, these theories were based on studying a separate and unequal cultures, then people will misunderstand post-colonial culture. Furthermore, Bhabha argues that theories of post-colonialism that do misinterpret culture in this way may cause further discriminatory practices. He believed that in this way, one can never separate theories from politics to understand the idea of cultural hybridity.
The last point that should be highlighted is the concept of cultural identity. The truth of the matter is that culture is, basically, “ the acquired pair of glasses through which one sees life.” Therefore, culture defines the human race. However, culture has a common specificities with the previous concepts; To begin with, culture is dynamic and always in flux. It is, also, shared and considered as an undeniable heritage. In fact, to make it more accurate, it is composed of two main parts: What people can see are behavior, habits, actions, etc..But what is hidden underneath are beliefs and values. These norms with which one identifies with come from what is called “ culture”. The latter defines the personality of the people. And thus, it renders them unique, for, eventually, culture and identity are interrelated ( i.e. : The personal values lens borrows from the cultural values lens). Conversely, globalization is looming ahead and the concept of a pure cultural identity has become a myth. For now, all the sub-cultures are, actually, interacting and overlapping. Still some cultural identities have become critical or fundamental because, maybe, they attach to the psyche for too long, and they have powerful external stimuli associated with them. It is important to try to understand that these subcultures interact just like the humans do, which makes it a natural and biological process.
On the other hand, Diaspora and cultural identity share, extreme, blurred lines between them. Actually, for those who would, involuntarily, leave their homeland will find themselves lost in translation. And the ultimate question remains: How to preserve cultural identity whereas assimilation and integration represent the end of the road?
Cultural theorist and sociologist “ Stuart Hall”has talked about cultural identity and Diaspora, for he was known as “ The Godfather of Multiculturalism”. In his essay, Hall enunciates two different ways of thinking about cultural identity. The first one defines it in terms of “ one shared culture”. The second point that Hall points out is the related but different view of cultural identity, which is, basically, understood as unstable, metamorphic and even contradictory. It signifies an identity marked by multiple points of similarities as well as differences. For Hall, cultural identity comes from somewhere, yet it undergoes constant transformation. It is sometimes forgotten that the westerners had the power to make people see and experience through the self as the “Other”, which will pave the way for a traumatic character of the “ colonial experience”. Hall, also, interpreted Derrida’s use of “ differences”: He argues that the meaning of a word is never finished or completed, but it keeps on moving to encompass other, additional or supplementary meanings.