Homi Bhabha

Main Takeaway from Homi Bhabha:

Interested in:

How can we understand post colonial culture?

We should conceive of a persons identity and how it effects theories of post colonial culture

Bhabha argues against the idea that an individuals identity is based on fixed factors like education, gender, and race

Instead individuals can only be described through cultural hybridity—the mixture of culture influences which shape a human and effect their identity 

To see an individuals real self one must look past their logical contradictions and taboo’s that come from this mix, instead one must accept inner conflict inherent to humans

Post colonial cultures in particular are extremely complex—mixing cultural and linguistic imitations of the colonial power with preexisting traditional customs 

Post colonial theories should focus on hybridity and cosmopolitanism, if instead theories are based on studying separate and unequal cultures then they will misunderstand post colonial culture

Theories of post colonialism that do misinterpret culture in this way may further discriminatory practices.


The things in bold I would argue are the most interesting points for Homi Bhabha so I’ve compiled quotes that could easily be worked into an essay for the Exam. Hope these help!

(1) “That whole week Baby Kochamma eavesdropped relentlessly on the twins’ private conversations, and whenever she caught them speaking in Malayam, she levied a small which was deducted at source. From their pocket money. She made them write lines –‘impositions’ she called them – I will always speak in English, I will always speak in English. A hundred times each. When they were done, she scored them with her pen to make sure that old lines were not recycled for new punishments.

She had made them practice an English car song for the way back. They had to form the words properly, and be particularly careful about their production” (36).

(2)”Chacko told the twins though he hated to admit it, they were all anglophile. They were a family of Anglophiles. Pointed in the wrong direction, trapped outside their own history, and unable to retrace their steps because their footprints had been swept away. He explained to them that history was like an old house at night. With all the lamps lit. And ancestors whispering inside. ‘To understand history, ‘Chacko said, we have to go inside and listen to what they’re saying. And look at the books and the pictures on the wall. And smells the smells” (52).

(3) “Chacko said that the correct word for people like Pappachi was Anglophile. He made Rahel and Estha look up Anglophile in the Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary. It said Person well disposed to the English. The Estha and Rahel had to look up disposed …. Chacko said that in Pappachi’s case it meant Bring mind into certain state. Which, Chacko said, meant that Pappachi’s mind had been brought into a state which made him like the English” (52).

(4) “Chacko came home for a summer vacation from Oxford. Her had grown to be a big man, and was, in those days, strong from rowing from Balliot. A week after he arrived he found Pappachi beating Mammachi in the study. Chacko strode into the room, caught Pappachi’s vase-hand and twisted it around his back, ‘I never want this to happen again’ her told his father. ‘Ever’” (48).


The important fact here is that the contamination of the colonized is not their admiration for the English or their efforts to imitate them, but their inability to belong to neither the culture of the colonized nor that of the colonizer and they experience an identity problem. Thus, they gain a hybrid identity, a mix between native and colonial identity, neither fully one nor the other.

All of these quotes someway or another fit into Bhabha’s hybridity theory. So, if you’re brave enough to write about this theory, hopefully these quotes can help you! 

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