Theories of Mixture: Hybridity

Posted by: | March 23, 2009 | Comments Off on Theories of Mixture: Hybridity

While this article was a bit hard to get through, due to its wordiness, I felt like it covered some very interesting topics. However, the topic of hybridity wasn’t really covered in depth until the very end of the article, and to be honest, by that point I wasn’t being as diligent with my comprehension as I was in the first half of the article.

Now that I look back over the article, I see that the topic of hybridity was somewhat covered in the beginning of the article when Canclini discussed the mixing of traditional and modernity in popular cultures. He points out how mass media, as an example of modernity, gives new meaning to popular culture.

I particularly enjoyed the arguments Canclini made about folk culture and the state. Power is given to both when we analyze the tourist industry. The state uses folk culture and turns it into a tourist attraction, presenting the country’s “national identity”. However, at the same time, folk culture is given a certain amount of power, because without it, the state would not be able to promote tourism in the same way that they can, through use of the folk culture industry.

I also enjoyed Canclini’s comparison of anthropology and sociology. Canclini states that anthropology is interested in “saving” traditional and soon-to-be-extinct cultures, whereas sociology is interested in the effects of modernization on society. Canclini points out that both disciplines result in overlooking different aspects of society.

Canclini’s discussion of the role of monuments in society was very interesting. I’ve never thought of monuments in the way that Canclini has; however, his discussion of them brings new meaning to monuments for me. The author describes how monuments, although they may commemorate a specific time or moment in history, are resignified in modern society as they are built into the cities or towns. They are not enclosed in a glass box, such as they would be in a museum, for people to look at from afar. Rather, they are incorporated into the surroundings of a city, and people are able to interact with the monuments. Certain juxtapositions can then occur, such as the demonstration in favor of abortions occurring alongside a monumental statue of mother holding her son.

Lastly, I found Canclini’s hybridization case studies on graffiti and comics a great way to solidify his discussions of the theory of hybridization. In analyzing graffiti and comics and the roles they play in modern-day society, we see the processes of hybridization in material forms. Comics mix the use of images and words/dialogue with subject matter often pertaining to current issues whether economic, political or social. Graffiti, on the other hand, is a way of reclaiming territory, a form of expression that provides a voice for marginalized segments of society who may not have access to more widely used forms of communication.

I see that hybridization involves a mixing of different elements, such as Canclini discussed in the topic of border towns like Tiajuana, however I’m still not sure of how hybridization is different from mestizaje or transculturation. Hybridization seems to me to fit somewhere in between mestizaje and transculturation, with less stress on how the cultures mix and more stress on the end product, however I could be completely wrong!


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