Posted by: | March 24, 2009 | Comments Off on Hybridity

Before reading Canclini’s few chapters I thought I had a pretty good idea of what hybridity, as a theory of mixture, would be. I thought that it would be a lot like transculturation except more diverse, less one whole process. In a way, this isn’t an incorrect assumption, but I could never imagined how complex it really is. Hybridity isn’t simply the hybridization of different regional cultures, but the hybridization of almost everything. This is put most simplistically when, in the beginning of chapter 5, Caclini outlines three pairs of processes that are often describes as polar opposites. Before I even started to read I noticed this and, knowing exactly what he was showing, instantly thought of some things that proved these perceived polarities incorrect.

Not surprisingly, that is exactly what Caclini does for the next three chapters, although in great, great detail. Using examples from Latin American culture, he shows that the ideas of the traditional, modern, popular, and cultured are not exclusive, but rather hybridized in various ways in all culture. His most extensive demonstration of this is the ways in which folk culture is affected by modernization and “Art” (high art). He shows that, far from destroying folk culture, the modern economy actually encourages it (in the right circumstances) and helps shape it, so that it seems what is “folk” will never die, but will constantly evolve as does everything else.

He goes on describing all sorts of instances of culture and it is increasingly revealed that almost all cultural, social, economic, and political processes and actors interact according to circumstance. What is a produced is culture that is, in various ways, a hybridization of hybridizations of hybridizations of everything. Complex processes produce a collage of interlinked, conflicting, and diverse elements. This in turn challenges our perceived borders. Borders of states, of class, of ethnicity, and of terminology or category.

I really liked this reading and hope we go into great detail on it in class.


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