The Role of Mimicry in Homi Bhabha’s Of Mimicry and Man. Uploaded by .. 12 Bhabha, Homi K. “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse. It suggests that the effect of mimicry on the authority of colonial discourse is profound and disturbing, for in normalizing Of Mimicry and Man Homi Bhabha. In “Of Mimicry and Man” Homi Bhabha lays out his concept of mimicry. Bhabha’s essential argument is that mimicry can become unintentionally.
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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. This essay has been taken from his book The Location of Culture.
The concept of mimicry is not as simple as it seems at first instance, but a complex one. I have tried to define the concept of mimicry in simplest form; its role in colonial and postcolonial discourse and how the western exploitation of the east led them feel inferior.
The postcolonial studies have brought up the issue of subordination of the eastern countries on the hands of the ruling classes and the resultant effect of this domination is mimicry.
Though imitation is a very natural phenomenon to perceive something which is foreign and superior to us, yet when this natural becomes unnatural the problem arises. This tendency of considering themselves natives of the ex-colonized countries inferior to the colonial masters European powers during the colonial times due to their ignorance of the manipulation and diplomacy of the West led them feel frustrated, dispossessed of their identity, disillusioned and destroyed.
To mimic the whites became the ultimate destiny of all the racially distinguished people. My focus here is on the various ways in which mimicry operated not only during the colonial era but also how it has crept in the postcolonial times when all the ex-colonized countries have become independent. Now with the turn of the century everything has changed, even the forms of the colonization have changed.
The direct and visible domination of the West over the East has taken the form of the indirect and invisible control over third world countries.
Mimicry of the West now is not only limited to European countries but USA, having entered into the first world, has gained more prominence. People now do not imitate only the superior manners of the first world countries but they have started considering that whatever is foreign is the best.
This change of attitude and blind imitation is fatal to the growth of the individual and the nation as a whole. Postcolonialism as a theory emerged during the late s. Postcolonialism is a pro- active movement against any kind of injustice, any kind of depravity and distinction. It has developed the literature which has given us a platform to view the relationship between the western and non-western countries from a different point of view.
In the Introduction to Robert J. The history of colonialism dates back to the period of Renaissance. Discovery of America mimicr the modern period of colonialism. The postcolonial thinker, Frantz Fanon has momicry influential in the works of these contemporary postcolonial critics.
His work The Wretched of the Earth has influenced the people world-wide, who were once colonized by the British colonial powers. Fanon deals with the psychological effects of colonial domination and disempowerment in his Black Skin,White Masks Once the colonial masters departed from the colonies, these nations became socially, politically, and economically independent.
But the colonial hang over that was left on the psyche of the colonized was greater than the physical subjugation of the people by the colonizers. The colonizers adopted certain methods of dominating the natives. They snatched their lands, and ruled over it. Thus, they displaced them from their places physically and mentally. The language and culture have been the major tools of colonization. The enforcement of English ho,i in the colonies made the natives mute and dumb.
It became difficult for them to communicate, and express themselves or raise i voice against any kind mijicry exploitation. To spread the English language they created a surrogate Englishman through English literature in schools and colleges. They willingly accepted the superiority of the British, and their own inferiority.
Homi Bhabha is one of the chief pioneering figures of postcolonial theory.
Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse – California Scholarship
It is not a question of harmonizing with the background, but against a mottled background, of becoming mottled — exactly like the technique of camouflage practiced in human warfare qtd. The feeling of superiority of the colonial masters over the natives leads the members of the colonized nation to look at themselves as the inferior human beings.
The central character of V. This disillusionment ultimately leads him to believe what he says in the novel: The great city, center of the world, in which, fleeing disorder, I had hoped to find the beginning of order.
So much had been promised by the gomi aspect… there is no light like that of the temperate zone It is not merely the imitation of the human behavior but the attitude and temperament come into play.
Conversations on Postcolonial Theory
It does not cultivate a positive and creative approach in the mind of the ignorant native instead it hampers his growth. The native desires for something that he lacks and he keeps adn learning the new strategies of imitation to achieve the desired goal.
Bhabha says that this process of imitation is never complete, and there is always something that he lacks. In the similar way, Frantz Fanon analyses the psychological effects of colonial domination in his Black Skin, White Masks.
He answers in his own voice and says that Black is not even a man. The desire to mimic hbabha White haunts the Black day and night. For the black man there is only one destiny.
Fanon, very excellently, exposes this racial anxiety of being White in his Introduction to the Black Skin, White Masks: White men consider themselves superior to Black men.
There is another fact: How these racial differences and linguistic difficulties of a foreign language can lead to traumatic experiences is far from imagination.
Postcolonial literature criticizes the racial discrimination anv the humiliation on the hands of the Whites. The influence of it has gone deep in the psyche of the human beings that it can not be undone.
In which, the female protagonist, a young black girl Pecola craves for the blue eyes so that she will look like the Whites. She thinks that after being White everything will get changed; their family standard will be uplifted. Toni Morrison has tried to give a glimpse miimcry her suffering: During the rule of the colonial masters in the colonies, the influence of imperial powers led the dominated natives feel dispossessed, and devoid of the language of the colonizers to communicate.
This pressure forced them to imitate the superior Other. The influence of Freud and Lacan on Homi Bhabha is quite obvious as he has taken them into consideration in his essay. Mimicry does not merely destroy narcissistic authority through the repetitious slippage of difference and desire. It is the process of the fixation of the colonial as a form of cross-classificatory, discriminatory knowledge in the defiles of an interdictory mi,icry, and therefore necessarily raises the question of the authorization of colonial representations.
Even it suggests of dismantling the concept of first world and third world countries as it creates a division between these two places. The first world includes all the developed and ruling countries while the third world includes all the developing and ex- colonized countries.
The third world countries still look up towards the first world considering it reformed, polished, mannered and civilized. Mimicry of the West has now extended to the imitation of their way of speaking, clothing, and living. The influence of the western culture is very much obvious not only in our day to day life but in other fields like films, music, literature, customs, religion and our personal relationships as well.
In the name of modernity we have become blind adherent to it and keep copying and mimicking whatever comes to our amd. Thus, the first world still keeps fascinating us with the use of magical spells of its language, and culture.
Once the realization dawns on the natives of the third world mimicrj, they start resisting against the domination of the imperial powers through the same techniques with which they have been colonized.
During this postcolonial era, we should now resist the impact of the West with best possible means. We should now put the binary oppositions in play and dismantle the hierarchy of the west and the rest. Mimicry can be the method of subversion and it can adopt a new role in postcolonial discourse. The political freedom of the third world countries will then only result in mental and psychological independence of its people.
Thus, it will lead them to a better future. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse. Black Skin, White Masks. A Very Short Introduction.
English Literary Criticism and Theory: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Postcolonialism is an emancipator concept. Aziz is accused of being feminine. The colonizer is resented yet hated. Loss of identity, alienation.
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