Homi K. Bhabha (1949- )
Literary Criticism 2
Homi K. Bhabha was born in 1949 in Mumbai, India. He is one of the most important thinkers in the influential
movement in cultural theory called post-colonial criticism. Bhabha’s work develops a set of challenging concepts that are
central to post-colonial theory (Huddart 3-5).
These concepts describe ways in which colonized peoples have resisted the power of the colonizer, a power that is never
as secure as it seems to be. This emphasis illuminates our present situation, in a world marked by a paradoxical
combination of violently proclaimed cultural difference and the complexly interconnected networks of globalization.
Instead of seeing colonialism as something locked in the past, Bhabha shows how its histories and cultures constantly
intrude on the present, demanding that we transform our understanding of cross-cultural relations.
The authority of dominant nations and ideas is never as complete as it seems, because it is always marked by anxiety,
something that enables the dominated to fight back.
Bhabha’s work takes post-structuralist approaches and applies them to colonialism, producing what has been called
‘colonial discourse analysis’.
His work suggests that colonial discourse only seems to be successful in its domination of the colonized. This
domination depends on the assertion of difference: the colonized are inferior to the colonizers. However, colonial
authority secretly—rather, unconsciously—knows that this supposed difference is undermined by the real sameness of
the colonized population.
The tension between the illusion of difference and the reality of sameness leads to anxiety. Indeed, for Bhabha colonial
power is anxious, and never gets what it wants—a stable, final distinction between the colonizers and the colonized. This
anxiety opens a gap in colonial discourse—a gap that can be exploited by the...