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9 Transnational Migrations Aesthetic Hybridities—Performed Syncretisms In response to neocolonial relations of knowledge, emerging postcolonial states in the imperial histories of the twentieth century generated new conceptions of the citizen, language, and ways of being in the world. Issues of métissage and creolité in the Francophone Caribbean; concepts of anthropophagy and the carnivalesque in Brazilian discourses about modernization during the 1920s and ’30s; phenomenologies of negritude and negrissimo and the impact of writings by Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Leon Damas, Birago Diop, and Léopold Sédar Senghor; and notions of indigenous national consciousness promoted by Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, and Sékou Touré, among others, contaminated other nascent ideologies of nationness with long-term repercussions in the struggles for heterogeneous citizenship within the fictionalized, sovereign, monolithic postcolonial state. Since the 1930s, various conceptual frameworks for galvanizing ideas of plurality and multicultural citizenship against monocultural national identities within the state have been pursued, by positing notions of a “third” space politically, geographically, and historically. The idea of a third space in aesthetics, political affiliations and the international political economy 5 141 5 haunts the seamless narrative of oppressed and oppresser, colonized and colonizer, First and Third World, dominant and subaltern.1 From the debates on third cinema and Third World aesthetics that inspired the third cinema conference in Edinburgh in 1986, to the idea of third theater explored by Eugenio Barba, Augusto Boal’s theater of the oppressed , Indian street theater forms such as Jatra, Paolo Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed, Rustom Bharucha’s experiments in third space for postcolonial theater, Vijay Tendulkar’s protest theater, Jerzy Grotowski’s notion of a poor theater, Guillermo Gómez Peña’s border brujo, the Border Arts Workshop’s border activism, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s notion of “orature,” and Penina Mhando’s conception of theater for development, cultural practitioners have struggled to destabilize economic reductionism in the interests of new cultural hybridities.2 In many postcolonial states, alternative art movements have privileged a retro-nationalist move toward indigenization in the search for native roots in disrupted precolonial cultural forms. Merging vernacular languages , folk arts, European avant-garde forms, and secular concerns, these postcolonial playwrights, directors, visual artists, and performers offer a variety of interpretations of contemporary aesthetics across national borders . For instance, Badal Sircar’s incorporation of Jatra in Calcutta and Girish Karnad’s blending of Sanskrit folk mythologies into English Indian theater in Bangalore share various hybridizing influences with Jatinder Varma’s experimental work with the Tara Arts Group in London. All three directors employ Indian mythology, use English as well as Indian languages as vehicles of performance, and explore Indian dramatic forms as vehicles for presenting contemporary life in London, Calcutta, or Bangalore.3 Other concepts of hybridity such as Oswald de Andrade’s anthropophagy , Homi Bhabha’s mimicry, Kobena Mercer’s creolizing practices, Stuart Hall’s new ethnicities, Paul Gilroy’s syncretism, Manthia Diawara’s Afro-kitsch, Edouard Glissant’s transversality, Marlene Nourbese Philip’s babu english, Roberto Retamar’s Caliban, Antonio Benitez-Rojo’s supersyncretism , Assia Djebar’s nomad memory, Arjun Appadurai’s global ethnoscapes, Lisa Lowe’s heterogeneity, José Martí, Nicolás Guillén, and Françoise Lionnet’s uses of métissage, Néstor García Canclini’s cultural reconversion , Celeste Olalquiaga’s Tupinicopolitan aesthetic, Robert Stam’s carnivalesque, and Michelle Cliff’s ruination, to name a few, have specifically addressed issues of contemporary hybridities in relation to state sovereignty and transnational movements of peoples.4 Many of these conceptual hybridities move beyond the idea of the nation to reveal the interdependent ways in which transnational circulations T r a n s n a t i o n a l M i g r a t i o n s 5 142 5 of commodities operate. As a result of the increasingly mediated globalizing economy, these ideas of hybridity destabilize authoritarian forms of control, while interrogating the parameters and limits of the democratic state. Instead of working within the narrow boundaries of the state, these theories of hybridity pose a challenge to the limits of the sovereign state. By proposing alternative economies of aesthetic and political viability through ideas of a third space, these theorists of hybridity offer ways out of narrowly defined ideas of artistic possibility. Rather, they pose broader syncretic identities such as international feminist (Assia Djebar, Michelle Cliff, Marlene Nourbese Philip), Third World, Asian American (Lisa Lowe), postcolonial, and socialist as a means of...


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