Hybridity

Hybridty is a mutation of the concept of transcultralism.  Transculturalism is based on the idea that the flow of culture has the ability to travel in a transcontinental space.  Hybridity theory take this idea one step further by asserting that in addition to one cultural practice being transplanted into another geographical space, often what happens is a hybridity of cultural exchange where cultural mutations and cross pollination take place.

Hybridty theory thus creates a way for researchers to look at social and cultural practices in such a way as to offer multi-modal perspectives of the participants involved.  Through this ability to theorize on multiple levels of cultural practice, such as the origin of ritual, spiritual and physical practice, hybridity theory offers the ability to see beyond traditional modern approaches of cultural origin.

Theorists such as Homi Bhabha, Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall were not creating hybridity as a master narrative, but as a way of working in opposition to traditional imperialist academics who asserted that culture flowed in a singular direction.  Bhabha widened academia’s ability to understand and analyze  non-traditional academic texts through his thoughtful writing and proposition of “hybridisation” or the culmination of poly cultural practices.

Paul Gilroy asserted in The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness that African Americans were not imperialistically driven through European culture, but offering up a dual consciousness or hybridity where African Americans dealt with the duality of being descendants of Africa in America with European cultural practices politically thrust upon them.

Stuart Hall’s research into encoding and decoding also offers insight into hybridity, through his assertion that the one-way “hypodermic needle”  assessment of mass media communication was in fact a multi-channel, multi-way communication system where a dialog existed between the various entities that affected the way in which content was produced, distributed and viewed.  The assertion that the audience was not a passive recipient but active participant drew heavy criticism by the modern academics, however as post modernsim has grown, Hall’s work has garnered acceptance.

These theorists ability to reject traditional academic circumstance and make new assertions have inspired my own ways of thinking about hybridity and opened a path for new work to exist.

Through my own research I have found examples of work based on hybridity theory which can be seen in many various forms, for example TV shows that look at fusion cooking where chefs combine local and transcontinental recipes to create new dishes which exemplify a cultural melting pot, no pun intended.

Other hybridity examples can be found in the movie Good Copy, Bad Copy, a film about copyright and the music industry.  The film focuses on remix culture and Girl Talk, a DJ from Pittsburgh who “mashes up” popular American pop music and other music from around the world to create his own rhythms, beats and vocals.  His efforts create a cultural fusion of various music, which come from around the world.  In the movie Good Copy, Bad Copy one such sample he used was a Tecno Brega (Brazilian Techno) remix of Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, a group co-created by DJ Danger Mouse.  Danger Mouse is famous for his own cultural fusion work such as the Grey Album, which took the Beatles’ White Album and mashed it together with Jay-Z’s the Black album to create a culturally hybrid musical piece in and of itself.  Girl Talk sampling of the Tecno Brega remix of Crazy in the movie shows how truly hybrid and transcultural our creative spaces have become.

This example is what led me to think about hybridity and car culture and the examples discussed in my Analysis.  I believe it is through this multi-modal approach of trying to understand the creation and formation of culture that will help academics better appreciate not just cultural practices themselves, but also how they change over time, and the fluidity that occurs when cultures encounter each others’ hybrid attributes as both cultural producer and consumer.

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