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The Location of Culture

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,102 ratings  ·  83 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
Paperback, 440 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Routledge (first published 1994)
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Ankur Singh It is upto you to perceive the way you want to judge an academic writing which requires a writer to be located in a sphere where his awareness of the …moreIt is upto you to perceive the way you want to judge an academic writing which requires a writer to be located in a sphere where his awareness of the other essayists and critiques needs to be displayed through their reference in their writing,whether repetitively or not.
Bhabha incorporates that essence.Try not to take it up the next time, I too prefer others over him for the same reason.(less)

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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 rated it really liked it
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
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
Unforgivably, unnecessarily obtuse. Infuriatingly impenetrable. Rubbish.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
C. McGee
Oct 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
One of academia's best snake oil salesman. Bhabha says nothing, but he says nothing in an intimidatingly dense and jargon-laden fashion, so that the reader is too scared to call bullshit. No one in academia ever wants to be told that, "they don't get it," so barely anyone calls Bhabha out. What a joke.
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.
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
Oct 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Given the work it takes to read this book, I would recommend reading the authors, such as Fanon, that Bhabha cites, instead. Those authors are compelling, and Bhabha's prose seems to suck the emotion and passion out of the issues he addresses and the writers he uses to make his arguments.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
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.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Contains some nuggets of wisdom. But his language requires some deciphering.
Sometimes too theoretical.
Sarah AlObaid
Sep 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This is not for the faint of hearts. Academic torture.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: postcolonialism
“The problem of progress is not simply an unveiling of human perfectibility, not simply the hermeneutic of progress. In the performance of human doing, through the veil, emerges a figure of cultural time where perfectibility is not ineluctably tied to the myth of progressivism ... What is crucial to such a vision of the future is the belief that we must not merely change the narratives of our histories, but transform our sense of what it means to live, to be, in other times and different spaces, ...more
Erdem Tasdelen
Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Chon Mkliiry
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 12, 2012 added it
Shelves: partially-read
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.
scott noble
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
awesome post-colonial theory
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome book for those interested in postcolonial theory.
Kathleen Quaintance
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
very poststructural which means you have to wrestle with everything and read every sentence twice to absorb but what's being said, but the topics are so important so i think it's 10000% worth it, definitely way more than other poststructural writings which make you wrestle for no reason (thats not a nuanced statement but like, u get me. there's no way zizek's insanely dense account of some random midcentury eastern european film deserves the same amount of difficulty as this.) the density and fl ...more
Drew Edwards
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is a pillar of post-colonial and post-modern thought. The quality of ideas are no less than 5 stars. Despite openly acknowledging that ideas like this need to be made more accessible the author failed to write in a way that was accessible and clear, even for other academics. The thoughts often ramble and are sometimes incomplete. The verbiage used is unnecessarily complicated and flamboyant to the degree that detracts from the brilliant points he is making. I highly recommend reading a ...more
Interesting essays but I tired of his academic-speak very early on.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is very amazing.
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is definitely wonderful.
Yakut Akbay
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The cultural penetration of Bhabha's thought, somewhat fitting, testifies the argument of the first essay of this volume: theory's ability to fundamentally reshape the conditions of discussion. It also, of course, testifies to the fact that it's smart, and stuff. That doesn't mean that the first essay is necessarily the best place to begin, though; while Bhabha's prose (in this volume at least) is not as difficult as it is sometimes accused of being, starting with one of the shorter and earlier ...more
Irene Wang
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 most ambivalent. Speaking in a voice that combines intellectual ease with the belief that theory itself can contribute to pr ...more
Megan Olsen
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
It took me so long to read this one, which I need for my dissertation. I do love Bhabha's approach to postcolonial theory but his writing is definitely a bit too much. Anyway, this is really a comprehensive collection of essays on the topics of cultural identity, hybridity, the representation of migrants in literature, ... If you are interested in any of this or in postcolonial studies, then this is a must read.
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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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