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The Location of Culture

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,440 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Rethinking questions of identity, social agency and national affiliation, Bhabha provides a working, if controversial, theory of cultural hybridity - one that goes far beyond previous attempts by others. In The Location of Culture, he uses concepts such as mimicry, interstice, hybridity, and liminality to argue that cultural production is always most productive where it is ...more
Hardcover, 444 pages
Published March 15th 1994 by Routledge (first published January 3rd 1994)
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This book recommended for...

1. People who like pain.
2. People who like elitist, dense, scholarship that arrogantly references a huge array of critical theory without attempting to show where any of this is coming from or what it really means, and then tries to pass itself off as politically efficacious.
3. Graduate students and academics in cultural studies or postcolonial theory.

This makes me wonder... are those in the third category just really those who fit both descriptions one and two? It's
Homi Bhabha seems to collect thinkers together, and take fragments of them and try to glue them together, but he does a really bad job of it. His typical adhesive is Lacanian nincompoopery (holy shit, spellcheck accepted that)(but not "Lacanian"), so I'm probably not the best interpreter. He's borderline unreadable, but then he has these moments of utter clarity and charm when riffing on Salman Rushdie or Roland Barthes, and you realize he has a lot of talent. Which makes me think he's probably ...more
Scott Smith
May 01, 2011 Scott Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is certainly an important book. Bhabha is one of the "Holy Trinity" of postcolonial theorists, along with Edward Said and Giyatri Spivak. He is known for being fairly difficult to read (he is a big fan of Lacan) but once you sort of get used to his style and his general thought process he becomes accessible. Spivak is still way harder to approach then Bhabha.
Anyway, his main thesis deals with the place of colonized subject somewhere in between the stereotypes of savagery and naivete that t
Aug 19, 2014 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to deny that Homi Bhabha changed the entire discourse surrounding postcolonial studies, but he's also one of those figures--like Foucault, Judith Butler, Marx, or Freud--whose central ideas have become so important and so widely discussed that they are now almost taken as a baseline for discussion in literary and cultural criticism. For my money, Bhabha's two best essays in this collection are "Of Mimicry and Man" and "Signs Taken for Wonders," which develop his theories of cultural hy ...more
Matías Zitterkopf
If you want to torture someone or yourself, go ahead and read this book. I've read some chapters for my thesis, I found some definitions I needed but it's a very complex kind of reading.

Homi takes a simple idea or concepts and goes on forever trying to explain it, repeating and saying in each paragraph what he made "clear" in the first line.
This book is the epitome of how critical theory creates its own dualism between elite theoretical discourse and other, more digestible, ways of writing. Bhabha's concepts, while worthwhile, remain buried in sentences that appear to be consciously overwritten and almost unintelligible. This is almost impossible to compare to other theorists. I would recommend Said, but never this.
Brilliant, demanding, challenging, insightful, and in places just plain wrong this remains one of the most important texts in post-structural postcolonial studies. It is an absolute must read in that there is a basic defining of the field in this collection of papers published elsewhere and gathered here. It contains two of the fundamental texts of the approach – 'Of Mimicry and Man' and 'Sly Civility' – that merit repeated re-reading and re-evaluation. My problem with it is part of a more gener ...more
Erdem Tasdelen
Aug 22, 2010 Erdem Tasdelen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting progression in this book. Maybe it's because I don't have a firm grasp of the specifics of these histories of colonialism that I find it easier to relate to his analysis of the last century and the effect of modernity/postmodernity on postcolonial subjectivity. Bhabha's writing has much more clarity in the later chapters where he starts utilizing the terms he lays out in the previous ones, and adds a few that are more cohesive. I enjoyed how he methodically sculpts a postcolonial sub ...more
Dec 18, 2015 Leonardo marked it as to-keep-reference  ·  review of another edition
Los estudios poscoloniales abarcan un amplio y variado grupo de discursos, pero deseamos enfocar aquí la obra de Homi Bhabha porque representa el ejemplo más claro y mejor articulado de la continuidad entre discursos posmodernistas y poscolonialistas. Uno de los objetos primarios y constantes de los ataques de Bhabha son las divisiones binarias. De hecho, todo el proyecto poscolonial que él presenta se define por su rechazo a las divisiones binarias sobre las que se ha predicado la cosmovisión c ...more
Chon Mkliiry
Dec 19, 2012 Chon Mkliiry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book on the future challenges faced by the advent of post-colonialism and postmodernism. His observations on "the third space" certainly resonates with me as a multicultural, multiracial individual. He sees human development as always "media res" and refrains from binary classifications such as past and present or this culture/that culture. His argument, which compliments Deleuze and Guattari's "rhizome", is very compelling. A great book, but by no means a quick read.
Feb 22, 2013 Joy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not readeable, even to those familiar with the terminology associated with post-structuralism and post-colonialism. Further, the content is repetitive. I didn't like this book at all.
Melusine Parry
The ideas are fascinating, but the style is awful, terrifyingly jargonny and sometimes impenetrable. You have to read critical studies of the book to understand all of it.
Nov 07, 2012 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm too dumb to understand all the isms and iations and other complex-ass nouns Bhabha uses in the creation of the post-colonial studies vocabulary.
Unforgivably, unnecessarily obtuse. Infuriatingly impenetrable. Rubbish.
Mar 21, 2013 Bridgett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an awesome book for those interested in postcolonial theory.
Jun 28, 2014 Nagisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research
Very hard to read. It took me a couple of weeks to understand one chapter.

Read "2. Interrogating identity: Frantz Fanon and the postcolonial prerogative."

Bhabha studies identity from Frantz Fanon's works and proposes that identity is not fixed.
Unstable relationships between the self and the other, desires and demand create "a splitting space" between the self and the other. One recognizes its identity on created images within the space.
In other words, according to the relationships between the s
scott noble
Jun 01, 2010 scott noble rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
awesome post-colonial theory
Jul 31, 2014 Salvatore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this could have been perhaps a third of the size due to unnecessary repetition and emphasis on the major points, as well as some rambling side issues, this is an engaging and critical read on post-colonialist theory, which stresses the voice from in-between, from the liminal societies and view-points and positions in the world. It focusses on the post-structuralist view of reading culture or history or novels: there aren't simple dichotomies when talking about coloniser/colonised, white ...more
Gabriel Oak
Jun 06, 2014 Gabriel Oak rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
Bhabha is one of the foremost postcolonial theorists today and this is one of his foundational books. It's full of exciting ideas about cultural hybridity and the blind spots in theoretical accounts of modernity and postmodernity. It's also crippled by impenetrable academic prose: long sentences with confusing modifying clauses, strings of indecipherable prepositional phrases. It's a slog.
Jan 25, 2013 Colly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read the book before, some years past while working on my MA. I enjoyed it enormously then and though I might be able to glean some working material from it for a current project. It has, with its rather dated 90s emphasis on cultural difference, rather failed to age as well as some others by, perhaps, older writers (I'm thinking particularly of Said and Spivak) and I found it less useful than I'd hoped. Moments, such as that where he decries the misguided perception that theoretical langua ...more
Bhabha's ideas are very interesting, in regard to contemporary issues of migration and globalization especially. Bhabha develops ideas of other scholars such as Freud (the Uncanny) and Fanon to explain various problems of migrants in foreign countries. For instance he focuses on their "otherness" and what impact being the Other has on their identity. He also speaks about migrants' living in the "in-between" space, thus space bewteen two cultures, two languages, two value systems...etc.,and claim ...more
Yakut Melikzadeh Akbay
Professor Bhabha's views are predominantly post-colonial created on the basis of deconstruction and post-structuralism. In this respect, the concepts of mimicry and hybridity which are central to the colonial discourse are presented from a different, more innovative perspective by Professor Bhabha. They are slippery in the sense that they do not suggest stability, rather, they produce ambivalence challenging the narrative of Eurocentrism. Besides, as Professor himself admits, there is no sublati ...more
Luqman Lee
Feb 15, 2015 Luqman Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How is it possible that a book this good can be so painful to read?
Feb 17, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The hardest book I've read, where every sentence is an idea to ruminate over. 7
Megan Olsen
Aug 20, 2011 Megan Olsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bhabha's essay, "Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse" is one of the best pieces I've read on mimesis and imperialism. The idea that the more our charitable projects look and act like us, the more we yearn for clear boundaries and exposition of their "otherness" is something that colors my thinking about history, ethics, cultural relationships, religion, and even science and science fiction--"uncanny valley", anyone?

Loved this essay.
Nadia Mcgowan
This was painful.
A brief review: while some of Bhabha's ideas are rightfully praised, the obtuseness of his writing is inexcusable. Clear writing does not suggest a watering down (or dumbing down) of the content; it recognizes the importance of communication in the history of ideas. Somebody should write an "annotated" edition of The Location of Culture. But I managed to get to the end! \o/
Sam Doughty
Willfully ambiguous and obtuse.
Sep 08, 2015 Roos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did not even grasp the introduction of this book when I first tried to read it. I tried again once I'd gotten more into researching cultural "in-betweenness" and was pleasantly surprised. I found that even the introduction said so much I was trying to say - but more elaborately & eloquently, of course. Looking forward to reading all of this one day.
Abd Rahman
well i think this work by Bhabha is quiet dense and not easily digestible but it emerges dangerous questions that touch our contemporary thought such as identity multiculturalism subaltern and immigrants issues
it may be useful if you got some ideas about cultural theory,post_structural theory and of course post_colonialism before read the book.
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Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and the Director of the Humanities Center, at Harvard University. He is one of the most important figures in contemporary post-colonial studies, and has coined a number of the field's neologisms and key concepts, such as hybridity, mimicry, difference, ambivalence. Such terms describe ways in which ...more
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“The theoretical recognition of the split-space of enunciation may open the way to conceptualising an international culture, based not on the exoticism of multiculturalism or the diversity of cultures, but on the inscription and articulation of culture's hybridity. It is the inbetween space that carries the burden of the meaning of culture, and by exploring this Third Space, we may elude the politics of polarity and emerge as the others of our selves.” 17 likes
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