Sihem Arfaoui Abidi : “The Between-world Dilemma : Pains and Pleasures of Hybridity in Arab and Arab American Memoirs”

The dis­cus­sions of hybri­dity in works dwel­ling the Asian, African and Latin Americas – in the folds of texts like The Bluest Eye or The Woman Warrior – as a bet­ween-world dilemma almost amount to axio­ma­tic or even common-sense exer­ci­ses for the world-wide rea­ders of English lite­ra­tu­res. Unfortunately, it seems to require the 9/11 events to turn atten­tion to ano­ther signi­fi­cant seg­ment of English American lite­ra­ture, that is, Arab American wri­tings and shed light on their contri­bu­tions to the inves­ti­ga­tion of simi­lar issues, since what brought this genre to the spot­light has often-times been rela­ted to this event­ful decade. This is not to sug­gest that Arab American fic­tion is more ori­gi­nal when it comes to such issues as hybri­dity, but rather that this seg­ment of American lite­ra­ture needs to be taken into account in the arti­cu­la­tion of the consi­de­red ques­tion. In the spirit of revi­ving the cur­rent keen inte­rest in this mul­ti­laye­red lite­rary corpus – albeit in com­pa­ri­son with an Arab memoir writ­ten in English, I pro­pose to study the repre­sen­ta­tions of hybri­dity in two memoirs by Arab and Arab American women wri­ters. These include Dreams of Trespass (1994) by the Moroccan woman writer Fatima Mernissi and The Language of Baklava (2005) by Palestinian-Jordanian American nove­list Diana Abu-Jaber. Both memoirs, I argue, abound with ins­tan­ces where the iden­ti­ta­rian bet­ween-world status remains dilem­mic as long as it oscil­la­tes bet­ween pain and plea­sure. By drif­ting away from racial purity and cultu­ral authen­ti­city, Mernissi’s and Abu-Jaber’s life-wri­tings tell pain­ful sto­ries of dis­pla­ce­ment, exile, ins­ta­bi­lity, non-belon­ging, of people in a cea­se­less search for roots. On the other hand, these works trust them­sel­ves to the pos­si­bi­li­ties of mixing and syn­cre­tism which loom large for hybrid iden­ti­ties, as it is mir­ro­red through third-world soli­da­rity and allian­ces as well the chal­len­ges to homo­ge­neity and the bina­rist sym­me­tries bet­ween East and West, colo­ni­zer and colo­ni­zed.

Claudine Armand : “Forms and prac­ti­ces of hybri­di­za­tion in Fred Wilson’s visual art”

Fred Wilson is a New-York based concep­tual African-American artist (born in New York in 1954) whose mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary work draws from various sour­ces, such as art his­tory, archi­tec­ture, and anthro­po­logy. Through his noma­dic prac­ti­ces, he appro­pria­tes and explo­res hete­ro­ge­neous spaces, be they indoors or out­doors, which are always his­to­ri­cally-char­ged. As an artist, he also likes to take up dif­fe­rent roles (as cura­tor, col­lec­tor, guide, docent, or spec­ta­tor). His approach par­ta­kes of a post­mo­der­nist and post­co­lo­nial reflec­tion on the tra­di­tio­nal boun­da­ries of genres that he decom­part­men­ta­li­zes and a ques­tio­ning of public places and ins­ti­tu­tions, like museums whose rhe­to­ric and lan­guage he appro­pria­tes so as to unveil their gaps, ina­de­qua­cies, and intri­ca­cies. This paper aims at explo­ring the hybri­di­za­tion pro­cess – gene­ric, formal, func­tio­nal – that under­lies Fred Wilson’s art prac­tice. It will the­re­fore be based on an ana­ly­sis of the artist’s appro­pria­tion stra­te­gies and various forms of hybri­dity that are inex­tri­ca­bly linked to issues rela­ted to iden­tity and repre­sen­ta­tion. It will also show how Wilson builds a pro­tean art and an aes­the­tics of cross­bree­ding through ins­tal­la­tions, his favou­rite medium. His ins­tal­la­tions are open and fluid spaces, sites of inte­rac­tion and over­lap­ping of mul­ti­ple ges­tu­res.

Markus Arnold : “Cosmopolitan visions and odys­seys of memory : iden­tity twists in the wri­ting of Mauritian author Amal Sewtohul”

For a couple of years a young gene­ra­tion of wri­ters has been enri­ching the lite­rary field of Mauritius Island with esthe­ti­cally inno­va­tive repre­sen­ta­tions of anti-essen­tial iden­ti­ties. Diverging from better known ‘creo­li­zing’ cur­rents in the Antillean and in Reunion, those com­mit­ted lite­rary voices (A. Devi, N. Appanah, S. Patel, etc.) are oppo­sing to the hege­mony of a fixed mul­ti­cultu­ra­lism such as it can be found in Mauritian offi­cial dis­course and tra­di­tio­na­list view­points. Aiming at an inte­reth­nic dia­lo­gue, those authors trans­gress inter­com­mu­nal bar­riers and sub­vert the ideas of iden­tity purity and homo­ge­neity through dif­fe­rent ways of repre­sen­ting creo­li­za­tion. The pre­sent paper will ana­lyze how the novels of Amal Sewtohul – Histoire d’Ashok (2001) and Les voya­ges et aven­tu­res de Sanjay (2009) equally por­tray such an esthe­tics of the hybrid. But we’ll then see to what degree their inno­va­tive poe­tics diverge from the cur­rent lite­rary voices en vogue in Mauritius. Thus, Sewtohul’s hybrid visions can be consi­de­red as pro­po­si­tions of a trans­cultu­ral dia­lo­gue. But do they not illus­trate at the same time the limits of poli­ti­cal com­mit­ment ? Do they not run the risk of an eli­tist cos­mo­po­li­ta­nism far away from the Mauritian rea­li­ties ?

Myriam Bellehigue : “Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine : a mixed-blood nar­ra­tive”

“One of the cha­rac­te­ris­tics of being a mixed-blood is sear­ching. You look back and say, ‘Where am I from ?’ You must ques­tion. You must make cer­tain choi­ces. You’re able to. And it’s a bles­sing and it’s a curse.” The contem­po­rary Native-American nove­list and poet, Louise Erdrich, defi­nes her­self as mixed-blood, and the quest for iden­tity rela­ted to these mixed ori­gins lies at the core of most of her nar­ra­ti­ves. Love Medicine, first publi­shed in 1984, was reis­sued in a revi­sed and expan­ded ver­sion in 1993. It is the first novel Erdrich has devo­ted to the Chippewa com­mu­nity she ori­gi­na­tes from. Several other novels have com­ple­ted this fic­tio­nal family saga set in North Dakota’s Turtle Mountain Reservation. Love Medicine is a short story cycle that focu­ses on seve­ral mem­bers of the com­mu­nity over a period of 50 years. Erdrich draws from a dense his­to­ri­cal, poli­ti­cal and social back­ground to explore the per­va­sive the­ma­tics of cultu­ral, lin­guis­tic and reli­gious métis­sage. But hybri­dity is also a key motif in the very aes­the­tics she has chosen for her first book, approa­ching the issues of inter­mixing from the edge : “I am on the edge, have always been on the edge, flou­rish on the edge, and I don’t think I belong anyw­here else”. She resorts to various inter­tex­tual stra­te­gies bor­ro­wing from the Indian oral tra­di­tion of sto­ry­tel­ling and from other Native-American wri­ters, but also from American pre­de­ces­sors like William Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor. She is also influen­ced by European fairy-tales or Greek mytho­logy. As a short story cycle, the nar­ra­tive is marked by its own tex­tual pol­li­na­tion : kalei­do­sco­pic cons­truc­tion, poly­phony, echoes, repe­ti­tions and varia­tions. The dis­conti­nuity inhe­rent to this hybrid genre is coun­ter­ba­lan­ced by various forms of poro­sity and cir­cu­la­tion. Through mul­ti­ple reconfi­gu­ra­tions, Erdrich mana­ges to blur limits and to para­doxi­cally per­pe­tuate memory and heri­tage : “In the light of enor­mous loss, Native American wri­ters must tell the sto­ries of contem­po­rary sur­vi­vors while pro­tec­ting and cele­bra­ting the cores of cultu­res left in the wake of the catas­tro­phe.”

Salhia Ben-Messahel : “Hybridity as the site of dif­fe­rence in Nicholas Jose’s The Red Thread and Gail Jones’s Dreams of Speaking”

Recent Australian fic­tion shows a marked inte­rest for cultu­ral issues and the need for Australia to reconcile dif­fe­rent cultu­res and sto­ries : Indigenous and non-Indigenous his­to­ries in a post­co­lo­nial and global envi­ron­ment. Nicholas Jose and Gail Jones’s novels tackle inter­cultu­ral and trans­cultu­ral rela­tions and design an in-bet­ween space that beco­mes a site of dif­fe­rence. The issue of iden­tity and other­ness, from the pers­pec­tive of a mul­ti­cultu­ral nation in the Asia-paci­fic, sur­fa­ces through an inter­tex­tual cons­truct that trans­gres­ses the scope of time and space. Time and space merge to design a hybrid text res­ting upon inter­po­la­tion and dia­lo­gism, exten­ding the boun­da­ries of genre and dis­course. A fea­ture of post­co­lo­nial dis­course, hybri­dity trans­la­tes as an assump­tion that the centre is a decen­tred rea­lity, repla­ces a tem­po­ral linea­lity with a spa­tial plu­ra­lity and cons­tructs post­co­lo­nia­lity by playing with tex­tua­lity. The inter­tex­tual nature of Jose and Jones’s works, which can also be inter­pre­ted as part of a post­mo­dern approach, is a means to nego­tiate (bet­ween mul­ti­cultu­ral) iden­tity and dis­pla­ce­ment, to refute Eurocentric views about the world, to exa­mine cross-cultu­ral issues and address the text as an arte­fact that ope­ra­tes as the real in a dis­lo­ca­ted global envi­ron­ment.

Elisabeth Bouzonviller : “Cracks and ‘bri­co­lage’ in Louise Erdrich’s The Antilope Wife or the Art of Hybridity” Louise Erdrich is from mixed ori­gins and most of her novels are set in North Dakota in, or close to, an ima­gi­nary Ojibwa reser­va­tion. Repeatedly, her fic­tion cele­bra­tes an America of mul­ti­pli­city through her cha­rac­ters, plots and lite­rary tech­ni­que but it also calls for cons­tant remem­be­ring so as not to forget Native culture and cer­tain trou­bled aspects of natio­nal his­tory. The Antilope Wife takes place mainly in Minneapolis but the nar­ra­tive esta­bli­shes links with the land of ori­gins somew­here in the West, where some ini­tial crack brought para­doxi­cally three White, Ojibwa and mixed-blood fami­lies toge­ther. Our paper will study the way Erdrich mana­ges, through her wri­ting, and this novel in par­ti­cu­lar, to refuse rigid fra­me­works, a return to iden­tity and sec­ta­ria­nism and finally conveys a hybrid rea­ding of America. Unlike Silko or Momaday, who are per­cei­ved as more poli­ti­cally com­mit­ted artists and who favor a return to tra­di­tions in their fic­tion, Erdrich offers a hybrid wri­ting which mixes geo­gra­phi­cal, human and lite­rary ori­gins, a wri­ting which, like Lévi-Strauss’s « bri­co­leur », makes good use of all avai­la­ble ele­ments to pro­duce a new whole reso­na­ting with modern America.

Marilyne Brun : “Racial and Literary Hybridity in Brian Castro’s Shanghai Dancing

The nine novels of contem­po­rary Australian writer Brian Castro are par­ti­cu­larly inte­res­ting in rela­tion to hybri­dity. Most of Castro’s heroes are mixed-race, and their racial iden­tity is often deeply ambi­guous. What is unique about Castro’s fic­tion is that he sug­gests, in his cri­ti­cal work, that he also mobi­li­ses hybri­dity as a lite­rary trope. In this sense, it is cru­cial to unders­tand how Castro employs hybri­dity both the­ma­ti­cally and poe­ti­cally in his novels, and what rela­tion can be esta­bli­shed bet­ween the repre­sen­ta­tion of mul­ti­ra­cia­lity and hybrid poe­tics. This paper deals spe­ci­fi­cally with Castro’s seventh novel, Shanghai Dancing (2003), which fol­lows the quest of Antonio Castro. While the novel play­fully repre­sents racial hybri­dity as ambi­guous, its nar­ra­tive can also be des­cri­bed as fun­da­men­tally hybrid thanks to its mix­ture of genres and inter­tex­tual com­plexity. Elaborating on Salman Rushdie’s cele­bra­tion of “mon­gre­li­sa­tion” and Fred Wah’s “half-bred poe­tics”, I argue that Shanghai Dancing tightly asso­cia­tes racial and lite­rary hybri­dity, and the­reby high­lights not simply the pre­sence of racist forms in lan­guage, but also the desire for homo­ge­neity that exists in cano­ni­cal lite­ra­ture.

Simona Corso : “Robinson’s Adventures in a Hybrid World”

In his 2003 Nobel Lecture, entit­led “He and His Man”, J.M. Coetzee evokes the figure of an old and sullen Robinson Crusoe, who grasps the pen but does not find the right words. “His man”, on the other hand, dines with him but spends his days in the streets of England, hun­ting for sto­ries, and filling page after page with his “reports” – scenes of eve­ry­day life, tragic, endea­ring or funny. Reading and re-rea­ding these reports, Robinson unders­tands that they are figu­res of his own life, events that occur­red to him many years ago on his island. Since he is lost for words, his man’s elo­quence irri­ta­tes him, just as he was once annoyed by the many imi­ta­tors, who, like can­ni­bals, fed off his “island his­tory”, “that is to say, his life”. But Robinson conso­les him­self : “there are but a hand­ful of sto­ries in the world ; and if the young are to be for­bid­den to prey upon the old then they must sit for ever in silence”. While he is being cele­bra­ted as one of the world’s grea­test living wri­ters, Coetzee, unsur­pri­sin­gly, turns to Crusoe. The story of Robinson – one of the most power­ful myths in English culture – haunts the ima­gi­na­tion of post­co­lo­nial wri­ters. It is a direct source of ins­pi­ra­tion for Coetzee’s Foe (1986), Derek Walcott’s Pantomime (1978), but it also proves a power­ful influence for many nar­ra­ti­ves or epi­so­des cen­te­red on the master-ser­vant rela­tion­ship – from V. S. Naipaul’s short story “One out of Many” (1971) to Moses’ rela­tion­ship with his “right hand man” in Sam Selvon’s Moses Ascending (1975). Coetzee and Walcott, Selvon and Naipaul unra­vel English culture from its pre­su­med mar­gins ; by re-wri­ting, some­ti­mes pain­fully some other times humo­rously, the story of Robinson and Friday, these authors spe­cu­late about the vio­lence that under­lies every form of cultu­ral hege­mony, the status of his­to­ri­cal truth, the pri­vi­lege of having a voice, but also the rich poten­tials of irony and satire avai­la­ble in any rever­sal or hybri­di­za­tion of well esta­bli­shed lite­rary myths. Drawing exam­ples from J. M. Coetzee, Derek Walcott, Sam Selvon, and V. S. Naipaul I wish to explore the seman­tic com­plexity of Robinson’s story and its rele­vance to post­co­lo­nial fic­tion, not only as the nar­ra­tive core of a modern mytho­gra­phy of colo­nia­lism and its tragic conse­quen­ces, but also as a great labo­ra­tory for hybri­di­za­tion and satire.

Sophie Dannenmüller : “ ‘Café Mestizo : a grind so fine you give in to the plea­sure’ : The use of the medium to cri­ti­cize society in David Avalos’ hybrid sculp­tu­res”

The concept of hybri­dity is intrin­sic to the Chicano (Mexican-American) culture and iden­tity. In 1989, the California Chicano artist David Avalos (1947-) crea­ted the Café Mestizo ins­tal­la­tion in order to uphold the notion of mix­ture and denounce the nega­tive conno­ta­tion of the term ‘half-breed’. The ‘menu’ of Café Mestizo fea­tu­red various Combination Platters in the form of hybrid cons­truc­tions col­lec­ti­vely entit­led Hubcap Milagros. ‘Milagros’ (mira­cles) are small tra­di­tio­nal devo­tio­nal ex-votos cha­rac­te­ris­tic of Mexican Catholicism, while ‘Hubcap’ sug­gests the cus­to­mi­zed Chicano lowri­ders. These sculp­tu­res were all made of objects loaded with mea­ning : barbed wire, revol­ver, toma­hawk, hubcap, chili pep­pers, cactus, Sacred heart, vagina den­tata…. For ins­tance, Junípero Serra’s Next Miracle : Turning Blood into Thunderbird Wine jux­ta­po­ses sym­bo­lic objects to chal­lenge the myth of an idea­lis­tic colo­ni­za­tion and to contest the Franciscan mis­sio­nary’s cano­ni­za­tion in 1989 ; The Straight-Razor Taco repre­sents the confron­ta­tion of indi­ge­nous and European civi­li­za­tions through a rerea­ding of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, which insi­diously pros­cri­bed mis­ce­ge­na­tion. This paper will exa­mine the connec­tion bet­ween medium and poli­ti­cal content in Avalos’ com­po­site sculp­tu­res, which blend and confront Anglo and Mexican cultu­res, high and low art, the pro­fane and the sacred, myths and his­to­ri­cal facts, to expose the cur­rent Chicano condi­tion.

Anne Dromart : “Hybridity, Legitimacy and Identity in the Writings of Daniel Defoe”

By cal­ling the English a hybrid people – « a mon­grel half-bred race » — in The True-Born Englishman (1700) as an answer to Tutchin’s Foreigners publi­shed a few months before, Daniel Defoe dis­mis­ses the idea that natio­na­lism can be based on ethnic purity and prof­fers a new cons­truc­tion of Englishness through a ree­va­lua­tion of the notions of legi­ti­macy and indi­vi­dual iden­tity. What he does here for moral and poli­ti­cal pur­po­ses is also to be found in his other fic­tio­nal or non-fic­tio­nal wri­tings in which he coun­ters the tra­di­tio­nal asso­cia­tion of mixed blood with Satanic or sub­ver­sive forces, in order to show that an indi­vi­dual’s true iden­tity does not lie in his direct genea­lo­gi­cal line. In the wake of the Glorious Revolution in 1688 the rela­ted themes of legi­ti­macy in poli­tics and bas­tardy in lite­ra­ture par­take of the same reflexion on both inner worth and social value in a way that legi­ti­ma­tes social mobi­lity.

Corinne Duboin : “Black Atlantic Literature : Aesthetics, Hybridity and Globality”

In the pre­sent context, post­co­lo­nia­lity seems to disap­pear gra­dually for the bene­fit of glo­ba­li­zed trans­cultu­ra­lity. Writers them­sel­ves have become “global souls,” noma­dic, cos­mo­po­li­tan figu­res “in the modern, post­na­tio­nal globe” (A. Pico, Global Soul). Thus, one may wonder about the evo­lu­tion and the place of migrant and dia­spo­ric lite­ra­tu­res in the future. The new mobi­li­ties of the black Diaspora not only pro­duce more diver­sity within the Diaspora itself, but also new hybri­di­ties and inter­cultu­ral connec­tions that com­bine ten­sion with fusion. Those pro­ces­ses should be exa­mi­ned from a new pers­pec­tive that revi­ses the post­co­lo­nial approach by focu­sing not only on “ver­ti­cal” binary rela­tions, but on “late­ral” rela­tions as well (F. Lionnet & S. Shih, Minor Transnationalism). I pro­pose to show through a trans­ver­sal rea­ding how African American and Caribbean wri­ters scat­te­red throu­ghout the Black Atlantic ins­cribe their works within a tex­tual “third space” that reflects an onto­lo­gi­cal limi­na­lity. These wri­ters build their own canons through a pro­cess of tex­tual hybri­di­za­tion, a nego­tia­tion of new codes that com­bine same­ness with dif­fe­rence in an inte­rac­tive way, ini­tia­ting both a plu­ra­lis­tic decen­te­ring of wri­ting and a new world order.

Françoise Dupeyron-Lafay : “Denaturing, conta­mi­na­tion and hybri­dity in Thomas de Quincey’s auto­bio­gra­phi­cal works (1821-1853)”

Towards the end of his life, Thomas De Quincey was evo­king a form of pre­da­tory self-tor­ture : “It is like being a vam­pire who sucks his own blood, for the man who is cursed with a good memory is ‘a fiery heau­ton­ti­mo­rou­me­nos (or self-tor­men­tor)’ ”. The role of hybri­di­za­tion in his life and works clearly appears though this recourse to ancient Greek and, above all, through the novel image of the vam­pire, the alien from the East, deca­des before S. Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872) and Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Indeed, the title of Conan Doyle’s short story, “The Sussex Vampire” (1924) sounds like a para­dox in a natio­na­list pers­pec­tive, empha­si­zing the see­min­gly out­lan­dish nature of vam­pi­rism in the very heart of England. How did De Quincey come to this, through what slow and pain­ful meta­mor­pho­sis did he become other and turn into a hybrid crea­ture formed of hete­ro­ge­neous French, Turkish, Malaysian, or Chinese ele­ments ? These were the very threats he had erec­ted the pres­crip­tive and nor­ma­tive stron­ghold of Englishness against, at the start of his lite­rary career. As a matter of fact, in his 1821 Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, shortly after the Napoleonic wars and within the context of colo­nial expan­sion in the East, he had vigo­rously and repea­tedly clai­med (t)his English « purity », from a lite­rary, moral, intel­lec­tual and phy­si­cal point of view. This paper will the­re­fore focus on the ori­gins, moda­li­ties and conse­quen­ces of this hybri­di­za­tion through a corpus inclu­ding the Confessions (1821), “The Apparition of the Brocken” in Suspiria de Profundis (1845), The English Mail-Coach (1849) and Autobiographic Sketches (1853). Cannon Schmitt’s Alien Nation. Nineteenth-Century Gothic Fictions and English Nationalities (1997) will also be used as a secondary source.

Blossom Ngum Fondo : “Metaphors of ‘Twoness’ : Constructing a Double Heritage in Michelle Cliff’s Abeng”

Caribbean wri­tings like most post­co­lo­nial wri­ting are invol­ved amongst other things with the ways in which the colo­nial expe­rience affec­ted the lives of the colo­ni­zed. The Caribbeans espe­cially find them­sel­ves in a unique situa­tion where they are phy­si­cally and psy­cho­lo­gi­cally placed at the nexus of two dis­si­mi­lar worlds. Jamaican writer Michelle Cliff in her novel Abeng is inte­res­ted in pre­sen­ting the double heri­tage of the Caribbean focu­sing on cha­rac­ters who are des­cen­dants of both the slaves and slave mas­ters. In doing this, she enga­ges a series of meta­phors which high­light this double and conflic­ting heri­tage of the Caribbean. This paper intends to bring out this rich reper­toire of meta­phors of ‘two­ness’ in Abeng sho­wing the ways in which her nar­ra­tive tech­ni­que, cha­rac­te­ri­za­tion, land­scape, sexua­lity, naming, des­crip­tive stra­te­gies inter alia all go to show how the Caribbean is a citi­zen of two ines­ca­pa­ble worlds and must the­re­fore confi­dently carry the load of these two worlds and reconcile the various conflicts and dif­fe­ren­ces.

Jean-Michel Ganteau : “Mongrelization and Assimilation : The Hybridity of Englishness”

This paper will address Peter Ackroyd’s cri­ti­cal and pole­mi­cal defi­ni­tion of Englishness, as exem­pli­fied in his oeuvre, and more espe­cially in the texts that he has publi­shed over the last three deca­des. Such a defi­ni­tion is based on a vision of English culture as assi­mi­la­tion and hybri­di­za­tion, accor­ding to the prin­ci­ples of mon­gre­li­za­tion and lin­guis­tic hybri­di­za­tion encap­su­la­ted in the figure of the “mony­po­ly­lin­guist”. Such an explo­ra­tion choo­ses impu­rity as one of its most power­ful fea­tu­res and echoes what T.S. Eliot has defi­ned as the “metoi­kos” so as to sub­vert the canon of Englishness (or English Music, in Ackroyd’s terms) and pro­mote a latent coun­ter-canon, which is either denied of repres­sed. It cons­ti­tu­tes the symp­tom of the cultu­ral trauma of the Reformation which makes the figu­res of the cultu­ral and reli­gious other sur­face in the pre­sent under the guise of Catholic, Mediterranean culture and pro­mote the wor­kings of haun­to­logy. By so doing, Ackroyd pro­po­ses a new ethi­cal posi­tio­ning for a vision of natio­nal culture.

Laure Gardelle : “The contri­bu­tion of pro­no­mi­nal gender to the repre­sen­ta­tion of a hybrid lin­guis­tic iden­tity”

In the United States, the War of Independence trig­ge­red a search for a truly American lin­guis­tic iden­tity. Noah Webster, in par­ti­cu­lar, advo­ca­ted a lan­guage that would reflect the “soul of the American people”. Hence his edi­tion of the first American dic­tio­nary, which contai­ned many spel­ling and gram­ma­ti­cal reforms. He viewed American lin­guis­tic iden­tity as a move­ment away from an exis­ting lan­guage stan­dard which he cons­trued as a hybrid British / American blend. In the course of the 19th and early 20th cen­tu­ries, many wri­ters fur­the­red the search for American lin­guis­tic iden­tity by repre­sen­ting in their works what was regar­ded as the authen­tic speech of the people. This time, American lin­guis­tic iden­tity was pre­sen­ted as irre­conci­la­bly hybrid : beside the stan­dard lan­guage, one found sub­stan­dard English, with a dif­fe­rent use of the lan­guage, espe­cially in what came to be called the Old Southwest. While pro­nun­cia­tion and lexi­cal dif­fe­ren­ces have been widely docu­men­ted, the pre­sent study looks into one gram­ma­ti­cal aspect of hybri­dity that has been little stu­died : the use of gram­ma­ti­cal gender, more spe­ci­fi­cally the increa­sed use of she in sub­stan­dard English. It seeks to deter­mine how gender use contri­bu­tes to an author’s hybrid dis­course, with spe­cial refe­rence to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Teresa Gibert : “Thomas King and the Paradoxes of Hybridity”

Thomas King’s self-defi­ned posi­tion bet­ween two coun­tries and his belon­ging to more than one eth­ni­city has pro­vi­ded him with a van­tage point from which to deal with the para­doxes of hybri­dity and the dif­fi­culties in occu­pying what he calls “racial shadow zones.” In seve­ral inter­views, as well as in his crea­tive wri­tings, he has expli­citly or impli­citly revea­led his per­so­nal atti­tude toward the United States, his birth coun­try, and Canada, the coun­try that he has called home for many years now. King has also com­men­ted on his mixed ances­try and his desire to reconnect with his Native heri­tage : “Greek was the assu­med, the given iden­tity. Indian was the mys­tery, the unk­nown self” (1999). Furthermore, he has often addres­sed the sen­si­tive issues of authen­ti­city and legi­ti­macy on the part of mixed-bloods whose degree of “Indianness” is ques­tio­ned in spite of their firm deter­mi­na­tion to be seen as Natives. Considering roots a matter of choice to some extent, he has explai­ned why he dis­tan­ced him­self from the Cherokee from Oklahoma, to whom he is genea­lo­gi­cally linked, and felt more affi­nity with the Blackfoot, who cons­ti­tute the major source of mate­rial that frames the rea­lis­tic com­po­nent of his novels and short sto­ries.

Lise Guilhamon : “English ‘made as India’ : the lan­guage of Salman Rushdie’s fic­tion bet­ween lin­guis­tic hete­ro­ge­neity and poetic hybri­dity”

Critics and post­co­lo­nial scho­lars have often dubbed Salman Rushdie’s exu­be­rant and pro­li­fe­ra­ting style “Masala English” and acclai­med its hybri­dity, the way it mixes English with innu­me­ra­ble Hindi or Anglo-Indian expres­sions, with nonce words, mala­pro­pisms and mul­ti­lin­gual port­man­teau words, all of which dis­tort and dis­place English in order to Indianize it. But one won­ders if these devi­ces of lin­guis­tic cross­bree­ding, which are at work in Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses and The Moor’s Last Sigh for ins­tance, should really be des­cri­bed as the result of a pro­cess of hybri­da­tion as defi­ned by Homi Bhabha, that is to say, an inter­lin­guis­tic pro­cess of poetic crea­ti­vity. Wouldn’t most of these ins­tan­ces of lan­guage blen­ding be more aptly des­cri­bed as the result of the hete­ro­ge­neity of the lan­guage of these novels, the coexis­tence, within the text, of seve­ral idioms, lan­gua­ges and idio­lects ? To dis­tin­guish hete­ro­ge­neity from hybri­dity, I will ana­lyze the lan­guage of Rushdie’s fic­tion as English “made as India” (Midnight’s Children), i.e. a lite­rary tongue which is groun­ded in mul­ti­lin­gua­lism in order to per­form a meta­mor­pho­sis of lan­guage through a pro­cess of poetic crea­ti­vity.

Christian Gutleben : “Hybridity as oxy­mo­ron : An inter­pre­ta­tion of the dual nature of neo-Victorian fic­tion”

In this paper I would like to consi­der neo-Victorian fic­tion as an exam­ple of post­mo­der­nism which sys­te­ma­ti­cally hybri­di­ses the tra­di­tions, genres or works of the past with the contem­po­rary aes­the­tic and ideo­lo­gi­cal pers­pec­tive. Starting with Charles Jencks’ defi­ni­tion of post­mo­der­nism “as double coding – the com­bi­na­tion of modern tech­ni­ques with some­thing else” (1986, 10), I intend to define neo-Victorianism as a form of double-coding which grafts the modern onto the Victorian and thus pro­du­ces a new, quin­tes­sen­tially hybrid, nove­lis­tic spe­cies. In its endea­vour to asso­ciate the new and the Victorian, to com­bine the oppo­sed tra­di­tions of Victorianism and moder­nism, and to simul­ta­neously high­light incre­du­lity and faith, the fami­liar and the foreign, the same and the other, neo-Victorian fic­tion’s hybri­dity turns out to be oxy­mo­ro­nic. An oxy­mo­ron is not only the com­bi­na­tion of two oppo­sed concepts, it is also a new syn­the­sis and neo-Victorian fic­tion does indeed pre­sent unex­pec­ted modal and tonal confla­tions. But to bra­cket toge­ther contrary ideas can also create ideo­lo­gi­cal ambi­guity : how can neo-Victorian fic­tion be conser­va­tive and sub­ver­sive at the same time ? What does it mean to under­take an ope­ra­tion of both mytho­lo­gi­sa­tion and demy­tho­lo­gi­sa­tion ? To inter­pret the ideo­lo­gi­cal ambi­gui­ties which stem from neo-Victorian fic­tion’s oxy­mo­ro­nic hybri­dity will cons­ti­tute the goal of this paper.

John Hutnyk : “Creativity across bor­ders”

With so much already said about Hybridity, there is little more to add. Except that hybri­dity is per­haps best when it is cons­tant addi­tion. This talk addres­ses the fate of the term when it meets the poli­tics of an inter­na­tio­nal music fes­ti­val dedi­ca­ted to crea­ti­vity across bor­ders. A fes­ti­val that expli­citly and impli­citly, and some­ti­mes ambi­va­lently, decla­res a chal­lenge to easy iden­tity, that is concer­ned to mix up the melo­dious global juke­box with the dis­cor­dant rhythms of the global sweat­box. Commercialization and ope­ra­tio­na­li­za­tion of ‘culture’ is cri­ti­qued, yet “Clandestino !” remains one of the most inte­res­ting fes­ti­vals on the cir­cuit. Participation as an orga­ni­ser and as a guest offer dif­fe­rent ways to access the com­plexi­ties of public per­for­ma­ti­vity – and a theo­ri­za­tion that is some­ti­mes a little behind the prac­tice and enga­ge­ment of those more recently “added” to the crea­tive roster. What more can be said about hybri­dity will be risked again.

Madhu Krishnan : “Narrative Hybridity and the Dynamism of the Postcolonial in Chris Abani’s GraceLand”

This paper will consi­der the use of hybri­dity in nar­ra­tive struc­ture by consi­de­ring the case of Chris Abani’s GraceLand. Throughout its nar­ra­tive, GraceLand fuses toge­ther ele­ments from Igbo mythico-reli­gious tra­di­tion with ele­ments from American popu­lar culture and the contem­po­rary mytho­logy of the American dream. Rather than pro­vi­ding a case to sup­port either fra­me­work, GraceLand ins­tead uses its nar­ra­tive struc­ture as a means of high­ligh­ting the hybri­dity of post­co­lo­nial per­son­hood, while ques­tio­ning the legi­ti­macy of purist concep­tions of cultu­ral tra­di­tion and natio­nal pro­gress. As part of the so-called ‘third gene­ra­tion’ of Nigerian lite­ra­ture, Abani’s novel serves as an inter­ven­tion in fos­si­li­zed concep­tions of self and society through its una­po­lo­ge­tic use of concep­tual blen­ding, double-scoped nar­ra­ti­ves and hybrid mytho­lo­gies and master plots, ulti­ma­tely wor­king as a sta­te­ment on the dyna­mism of post­co­lo­nial exis­ten­ces and the neces­sity of hybri­dity for any judi­cious and balan­ced ima­gi­ning of the African conti­nent and its nations.

Joel Kuortti : “Hybridity as a ‘Disease’ in Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence”

In Salman Rushdie’s work, one of the most stri­king and recur­ring fea­tu­res is the ada­mant refu­sal of sin­gu­la­ri­ties, stable iden­ti­fi­ca­tions, or mono­lo­gi­cal repre­sen­ta­tions. Instead, aes­the­tic, ethi­cal, and poli­ti­cal issues obtain their value in and through ima­gi­na­tive plu­ra­lity, hybrid for­ma­tions, and hete­ro­ge­neous dia­lo­gue. Whether it is the Midnight’s Childrens’ Conference, the House of the Black Stone, or the Ocean of the Stream of Stories, mul­ti­pli­city is valued over same­ness, nar­ra­tive over his­tory. In The Enchantress of Florence (2008), Rushdie plays with his­tory and com­bi­nes Europe and Mughal India in an ima­gi­na­tive way through the jour­ney of the pro­ta­go­nist Niccolò Vespucci. In my paper, I look into the ways in which Vespucci’s appea­rance in Akbar’s Mughal court des­ta­bi­li­zes accep­ted iden­ti­fi­ca­tions, and pos­si­bly hybri­di­zes the per­cei­ved his­to­ries of both Europe and India. For this, I start from the idea that Vespucci’s mul­ti­lin­gua­lism and -cultu­ra­lism – “He could dream in seven lan­gua­ges” (p. 10) – pose either a threat or an oppor­tu­nity to iden­tity. What sug­gests that this is not an unpro­ble­ma­tic issue is his rela­tion­ship with these iden­ti­fi­ca­tio­nal lan­gua­ges : “He had picked up lan­gua­ges the way most sai­lors picked up disea­ses” (ibid.). What kind of a ‘disease’, then, is hybri­dity pre­sen­ted ?

Florence Labaune-Demeule : “Hybridity revi­si­ted : Anita Nair’s Mistress”

When Christopher Stewart, a young English jour­na­list and musi­cian, deci­des to travel to India in order to meet Koman, the great katha­kali artist, hybri­dity is a cen­tral concept in his own quest for ori­gins : he wants to know if the old man could be his father and if he him­self could have been the fruit of the hybrid union bet­ween the katha­kali dancer and his English mother. Thus the theme of “gene­tic” hybri­dity gra­dually suf­fu­ses the love-story which unites Chris and Radha, Koman’s niece, who is also Shyam’s unhappy wife. The novel ends on the announ­ced birth of Radha’s adul­te­rine child, the hybrid embo­di­ment of his parents’ oppo­sing cultu­res — the East and the West ; India and England, Radha and Chris. This, the­re­fore, means that cultu­ral hybri­dity is just as cen­tral : all the cha­rac­ters in the novel are torn bet­ween their need for authen­ti­city and their desi­res to share their cultu­ral spe­ci­fi­ci­ties with others, often stran­gers, as hap­pens with Koman, who both tries to prac­tice the purest form of katha­kali and who lets him­self be lured into beco­ming a very famous but poten­tially deba­sed katha­kali dancer in the West. The novel fore­grounds the themes of iden­tity and other­ness, sho­wing cha­rac­ters who often try to find for them­sel­ves a hybrid posi­tion, a form of in-bet­ween­ness which can only lead to some lack of sta­bi­lity, entai­ling the sub­ver­sion of any ini­tial aes­the­tic fee­ling. However, Anita Nair mana­ges to create what can truly be called an aes­the­tics of hybri­dity : the novel relies on the nine rasas to be found in katha­kali, which is typi­cal of Indian culture, while it is also based on seve­ral tra­di­tio­nal cha­rac­te­ris­tics of the Western genre, the novel. In Mistress Anita Nair crea­tes a verbal katha­kali to which she slowly ini­tia­tes the reader, lea­ding him into this dance of the senses, orches­tra­ted by both chenda and cello.

Monica Latham : “Bringing Newness to the World : Lloyd Jones’ ‘Pacific ver­sion of Great Expectations’ ”

Mister Pip cons­ti­tu­tes Lloyd Jones’ dia­lo­gue with Charles Dickens, the title of his novel being a clear echo of Great Expectations. Dickens’ hypo­text beco­mes the back­drop of Jones’ novel. The author trans­po­ses his pre­de­ces­sor’s Victorian novel to a com­ple­tely dif­fe­rent cultu­ral context, that is to say 20th-cen­tury Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Mr Watts, the only white cha­rac­ter who choo­ses to stay on the island during the civil war, pro­claims him­self a tea­cher and starts rea­ding chap­ters from Dickens’ novel in the class­room, thus giving the chil­dren “ano­ther piece of the world”, for them to forget the atro­ci­ties per­pe­tua­ted around them. The vil­la­gers also take the floor in the class­room and share their own sto­ries : the Victorian lite­rary story is thus paral­le­led by native, per­so­nal, mytho­lo­gi­cal oral tales until they finally fuse in Mr Watts’ life story told in front of the rebels. If impo­sing foreign sto­ries in a given culture can amount to a pro­cess of colo­ni­sa­tion, put­ting a native imprint on the cano­ni­cal text means res­pon­ding to the colo­ni­sing text, “wri­ting back” at it to cele­brate “hybri­dity, impu­rity, inter­min­gling”, “new and unex­pec­ted com­bi­na­tions of human beings, cultu­res, ideas” (Rushdie) and to bring “new­ness” to the old world.

Claude Le Fustec : “Magic rea­lism : the poe­tics of hybri­dity in African American Literature”

At the junc­ture of two visions of the world usually held to be anti­the­tic (at least by wes­tern stan­dards), magic rea­lism stands out as a nar­ra­tive mode par­ti­cu­larly well suited to express hybri­dity. Alternately advo­ca­ted in the 1940s by one of its major theo­re­ti­cians, Alejo Carpentier, in the name of cultu­ral hybri­dity, and denied nowa­days by quite a few wri­ters, whom cri­tics would deem “magic rea­lists”, for its under­lying wes­tern ratio­na­lism, the concept has fuel­led contro­versy and raised a number of ques­tions : close to such genres as the fan­tas­tic, the mar­vel­lous and even science fic­tion, magic rea­lism ques­tions gene­ric purity and fixity ; as a concep­tual tool, it high­lights the gap bet­ween cri­ti­cal theory and lite­rary prac­tice ; a post­co­lo­nial, sub­ver­sive wri­ting tech­ni­que turned global, it tes­ti­fies to the cultu­rally hege­mo­nic ten­den­cies of our global world. Beyond the pro­blems raised by this mode, howe­ver, this paper pro­po­ses to address the crea­tive poten­tial of magic rea­lism as a cri­ti­cal concept and wri­ting prac­tice. Basing our ana­ly­sis on African American lite­ra­ture, our aim will be to ana­lyze the way magic rea­lism mana­ges to achieve, in Wendy B. Faris’ words, a remys­ti­fi­ca­tion of contem­po­rary wes­tern fic­tion, by ope­ning up wes­tern lite­rary ima­gi­na­tion to a much more com­pre­hen­sive view of rea­lity than that condi­tio­ned by its secu­lar ratio­na­lity, crea­ting a non conflic­tual, truly hybrid ima­gi­na­tive space.

Deborah Madsen : “Hybridity, hyphe­na­tion and mixed-race iden­ti­ties”

In 1993, Time maga­zine publi­shed what it called “The New Face of America,” a com­pu­ter simu­la­tion of a mixed-race person who would be the result of deca­des of immi­gra­tion and inter­mar­riage. This issue of the maga­zine also ran sto­ries with titles like “The Global Village Finally Arrives” and “Intermarried … With Children.” This issue of hybri­dity has also been taken up by Kip Fulbeck in his “Hapa Project,” which brought toge­ther photos and self-des­crip­tions by people of com­plex mixed-race back­grounds. Despite such atten­tion from popu­lar media and scho­larly publi­ca­tions alike, the ethnic pro­file of the US conti­nues to be concep­tua­li­zed accor­ding to a model that I want to call “mono-hyphe­na­tion.” The pro­cess of hybri­di­za­tion or “Americanization” is expres­sed rhe­to­ri­cally as an inte­gral part of the migra­tion expe­rience every time an indi­vi­dual is refer­red to as “Asian-American” or “Irish-American” or even “African-American.” Yet indi­vi­duals, like the Hapas pho­to­gra­phed by Fulbeck, are increa­sin­gly iden­ti­fying them­sel­ves as, for ins­tance, “Asian-Irish-African-Americans” in a pro­cess not of mono- but of “multi-hyphe­na­tion.” The ques­tion I want to pose in this pre­sen­ta­tion is : why does the ins­ti­tu­tion of lite­rary study conti­nue to pro­mote an increa­sin­gly unsus­tai­na­ble, mono-hyphe­na­ted, unders­tan­ding of eth­ni­city in the wake of large-scale immi­gra­tion ? And, how can the conser­va­tive pre­fe­rence for mono-hyphe­na­ted eth­ni­ci­ties over com­plex mixed-race or “hapa” people be resis­ted ? Are pan-ethnic cultu­ral coa­li­tions pos­si­ble ? How would such a coa­li­tio­nal model trans­late into the terms of a trans­na­tio­nal, post-ethnic, hemis­phe­ric American Studies ?

Sarga Moussa : “Imaginary Hybridities : the cross-fer­ti­li­sa­tion of cultu­res, lan­gua­ges and reli­gions in Victor Hugo’s Les Orientales”

Without ever having tra­vel­led across the Mediterranean Sea, Victor Hugo drea­med all at once of “the Orient” (mea­ning both what one calls nowa­days the Middle-East, and a mostly ima­gi­nary ver­sion of the Orient, deri­ved from The Arabian Nights) and of a new rela­tion bet­ween the Orient and the West. Moving bor­ders around, and dis­pla­cing cen­tres, inclu­ding cen­tres of cons­cious­ness and posi­tions of enun­cia­tion, the poet, as soon as 1829, forced his rea­ders to reflect on their own iden­ti­ties, by sug­ges­ting the dyna­mic, or rather mul­ti­ple nature of their iden­tity. In poems such as “La cap­tive” or “Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe”, Hugo stages a mutual, albeit pro­ble­ma­tic seduc­tion bet­ween two see­min­gly anta­go­nis­tic cultu­ral spaces, the Orient and the Western world. The ques­tion of lan­gua­ges is also cen­tral in Les Orientales, where foreign words and orien­ta­li­sed rhythms abound, thus cons­ti­tu­ting a defiant Romantic chal­lenge to clas­si­cal aes­the­tics. Moreover, the rela­tion­ship bet­ween Islam and Christianity, a haun­ting sub­ject for many 19th cen­tury wri­ters after Chateaubriand, is pro­gres­si­vely reas­ses­sed as the reader pro­gres­ses in Hugo’s col­lec­tion of poems : “Voile” (XI) stages a dark ver­sion of Islam, still very much indeb­ted to the concept of “orien­tal des­po­tism” gene­ra­ted by the phi­lo­so­phers of the Enlightenment, whe­reas a poem like “Sultan Achmet” (XXIX), signi­fi­cantly inclu­ded in the Spanish cycle of Les Orientales — Spain, from the very pre­face of the book, cons­ti­tu­tes an in-bet­ween space — makes it pos­si­ble to conceive of a reli­gious reconci­lia­tion, media­ted by the love of a Muslim for a Christian woman, although of course the former first has to become a convert. What Hugo seems to be doing is not to deny or anni­hi­late dif­fe­ren­ces, but rather to play with them so as to demons­trate that the “Orient” is within us. That is why the notion of hybri­dity, as theo­ri­sed in post­co­lo­nial stu­dies, can help us to per­ceive the asto­ni­shing moder­nity of a col­lec­tion of poems that has far too long been wron­gly consi­de­red as the illus­tra­tion of a lazy and fashio­na­ble exo­ti­cism.

Jopi Nyman : “A Carvery of Hybridity : Monica Ali’s In the Kitchen”

It is the aim of this paper to exa­mine the role of hybri­dity in the recent novel In the Kitchen (2009) by the British Asian writer Monica Ali. I will argue that the novel is a fur­ther exam­ple of the attempt to hybri­dize Britishness and British iden­ti­ties in the context(s) of glo­ba­li­za­tion that cha­rac­te­ri­zes Ali’s lite­rary nar­ra­ti­ves. Whereas Brick Lane (2003) opens up hybrid spaces in East London and Alentejo Blue (2006) explo­res British iden­ti­ties in a Southern European context, In the Kitchen ima­gi­nes a trans­for­ming Britain affec­ted by contem­po­rary global flows and actors inclu­ding mul­ti­na­tio­nal com­pa­nies, human traf­fi­cking, and ille­gal immi­grant work­force. In car­ving out a new hybrid sense of Britishness, the novel’s two set­tings, the mul­ti­cultu­ral kit­chen of the London Imperial Hotel and the post-indus­trial Lancashire home­town of its chef-pro­ta­go­nist Gabriel Lightfoot, appear to play a cen­tral role. While the novel contrasts the vibrancy of the mul­tieth­nic metro­po­lis, a contact zone with the res­tau­rant kit­chen as its micro­cosm, with the regio­na­lism and tra­di­tio­na­lism asso­cia­ted with the North, nei­ther site is fully pri­vi­le­ged or cele­bra­ted. Subsequently the novel hybri­di­zes Britishness as it both chal­len­ges all attempts to fix it along inter­nal binary divi­sions and places it in a trans­na­tio­nal and global context.

Daniel-Henri Pageaux : “A cri­ti­cal alter­na­tive to post­co­lo­nial hybri­dity : neo-baro­que aes­the­tics (Latin-American and Caribbean lite­ra­tu­res)”

Within the pers­pec­ti­ves sug­ges­ted by the call for papers of the confe­rence, I have deemed it rele­vant to set up a dif­fe­rent notio­nal frame for the notion of hybri­dity, quite often asso­cia­ted with post­co­lo­nial cri­ti­cism. Using texts by nove­lists such as Alejo Carpentier and Severo Sarduy, as well as ori­gi­nal Hispanic cri­ti­cal concepts such as trans­cultu­ra­ción, real mara­villoso, mes­ti­zaje cultu­ral, the baro­que and the neo-baro­que, it is pos­si­ble to sketch new angles of approach and other rea­dings of Francophone Caribbean Literature. Those concepts can also be found in the work of Edouard Glissant and they enable us to ela­bo­rate new cri­ti­cal pro­ce­du­res in order to ana­lyse and explain the new nove­lis­tic aes­the­tics of these Francophone authors, and, more spe­ci­fi­cally, “creo­le­ness”. If the aim is to sug­gest new aes­the­tic cate­go­ries or even to apply cer­tain concepts or gene­ric fea­tu­res to lite­rary pro­duc­tions (as post-colo­nial cri­ti­cism does), then the concept of the “neo-baro­que” can offer not only an inte­res­ting, fer­tile approach, but a cri­ti­cal alter­na­tive that has its advan­ta­ges as well as its limits.

Yolaine Parisot : “Hybridity as an obs­ta­cle to post­co­lo­nial com­pa­ra­tist stu­dies ? The exam­ple of the Caribbean archi­pe­lago and the Indian Ocean”

The Caribbean archi­pe­lago and the Indian Ocean, as creole, creo­li­zed, creo­lo­phone spaces, impre­gna­ted with the memo­ries of sla­very and of enga­gism as well as with a dia­spo­ric ima­gi­na­tion, genuine labo­ra­to­ries of plu­ri­lin­guism, areas of exchan­ges bet­ween post­co­lo­nial nations and admi­nis­tra­ti­vely sub­mit­ted ter­ri­to­ries, invite us to com­pare their lite­ra­tu­res with each other. The illu­sive effect of the inter­na­tio­nal media scene often conceals the his­to­ri­cal, cultu­ral and aes­the­ti­cal dif­fe­ren­ces in order to dis­miss ‘créo­lie’ and creo­lity as well as india­nity and ‘coo­li­tude’ back to back and to high­light the concept of hybri­dity as a global pat­tern. But, symp­to­ma­ti­cally, Homi K. Bhabha’s Location of culture is sup­por­ted by a signi­fi­cant Caribbean hypo­text : the works of Stuart Hall, the essays of Wilson Harris and Frantz Fanon or the novels of V. S. Naipaul. Even if the defi­ni­tion of the ‘ver­na­cu­lar cos­mo­po­li­tism’ pro­ceeds from the inte­rest of the theo­rist, a native of India, in the Indo-carib­bean expe­rience, among all the names of the post­co­lo­nial hybri­dity, Alejo Carpentier’s and Jacques Stephen Alexis’ Marvellous Realism, Edward Kamau Brathwaite’s and Édouard Glissant’s Creolization, the ‘lit­té­ra­ture-monde’ of a mani­festo that only two wri­ters from the Indian Ocean have signed, are the ones the critic must make use of and the ones the critic impo­ses, with some epis­te­mo­lo­gi­cal vio­lence, on the lite­rary corpus from the Indian Ocean. Consequently, to exa­mine the concept of post­co­lo­nial hybri­dity through the lite­ra­tu­res from the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean is to recall their mutual contri­bu­tion to its emer­gence as well as their diver­gence towards its deve­lop­ment.

Sneharika Roy : “Hybridizing Homer : A Case of Epic Genes and Genre in Derek Walcott’s Omeros”

Hybridity, with its reso­nan­ces of cross-fer­ti­li­za­tion, has gained much cur­rency as a concep­tual tool in the post­co­lo­nial context. A case in point is the work of Derek Walcott, who stands at the confluence of the already hybrid Caribbean culture, and the occi­den­tal poetic tra­di­tion. However, has this empha­sis on cultu­ral inter-mixing drawn away from the gene­ric and inter­tex­tual ori­gi­na­lity of Walcott’s œuvre, in par­ti­cu­lar his neo-epic, Omeros ? In fact, the fore­groun­ding of gene­tic mixing, inhe­rent in the term “hybrid”, beco­mes par­ti­cu­larly appro­priate in the epic context of Omeros. Here, tra­di­tio­nal epic genea­lo­gies of noble war­riors give way to a varie­ga­ted poetic genea­logy, evi­dent in the mul­ti­cultu­ral mani­fes­ta­tions of the figure of Homer inclu­ding : the epo­ny­mous Greek Omeros, a local fisher­man named Seven Seas, and Walcott’s own poetic per­sona, a self-pro­clai­med hybrid Homer. A strong visual ele­ment is also inter­fu­sed through allu­sions to the American artist Winslow Homer and the voice in the “vase of a girl’s throat” invo­king “Omeros”. A hybrid ope­ra­tive prin­ci­ple is at work here, one which dyna­mi­cally enga­ges with the epic form and bardic figu­res, with gene­ric and gene­tic make-up. Thus, by playing with notions of influence, authors and (af)filia­tion, Walcott trans­plants the epic tra­di­tion in a context that is both Caribbean and global.

Ebrahim Salimikouchi : “The poly­pho­nic wri­ting of the hybrid ‘I’ in the auto­bio­gra­phi­cal work of Assia Djebar”

The wri­ting of Assia Djebar who belongs to the first gene­ra­tion of the foun­ders of an Algerian and fran­co­phone lite­ra­ture, is situa­ted in a cultu­ral context of hybri­dity. Her wri­ting swings bet­ween French as her lan­guage of edu­ca­tion, ins­truc­tion, intel­lec­tual for­ma­tion, and her Arabic-Islamic culture as her “culture of sen­si­bi­lity” (Djebar, 1992, 26). From the pers­pec­tive of post-colo­nia­list stu­dies on hybri­dity as a dis­tin­gui­shed cha­rac­te­ris­tic of lite­rary moder­nity, our research pro­po­ses to explore the work of Assia Djebar for a peru­sal of her wri­ting of the hybrid “I”. We will focus in par­ti­cu­lar on L’amour, la fan­ta­sia (1985) and Vaste est la prison (1995) for a the­ma­tic and sty­lis­tic ana­ly­sis of the tex­tual and contex­tual struc­ture of the iden­ti­cal cons­truc­tion of Djebar’s hybrid “I”. We pro­pose to demons­trate the remar­ka­ble poly­pho­nic, huma­ni­zing, demo­cra­tic and dia­lo­gic dimen­sion of her auto­bio­gra­phi­cal work that may pro­vide such lite­ra­ture the oppor­tu­nity for grea­ter res­pect, a better coexis­tence and dia­lo­gue in a world of cultu­ral shocks.

Michaël Taugis : “There and Back : Cross-Cultural Journeys and Interweavings in Gary Shteyngart’s The Russian Debutante’s Handbook”

In the Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Vladimir Girshkin, the main cha­rac­ter, is a Russian-American Jew born in Leningrad in 1968. His expe­rience is defi­ned by two main jour­neys : his immi­gra­tion to the USA in 1980 and his round trip in 1993 from New York to the fic­tio­nal city of Prava in the former Soviet bloc, and then back to America, to the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, where he set­tles down, mar­rying Morgan, an American stu­dent he met in Prava. My paper will show that these jour­neys gene­rate and reveal various forms of hybri­dity indu­ced by Vladimir’s encoun­ters, ambi­tions, and desi­res. These jour­neys repre­sent what the Haitian poet René Depestre calls a “métier à métis­ser”, a cross-cultu­ral wea­ving loom whose to-and-fro motion intert­wi­nes indi­vi­duals and forms of life that are some­ti­mes so dif­fe­rent that they are see­min­gly incom­pa­ti­ble. Vladimir’s memory is the shut­tle of this wea­ving loom, moving from his Soviet child­hood to his American ado­les­cence, and more gene­rally from the past to the pre­sent, because in the light of each remi­nis­cence the pre­sent is impli­citly connec­ted with the past. This hybrid memory sug­gests that hybri­dity is not only a fact (for this Russian immi­grant) but also a cata­lyst. In addi­tion and above all, it is a weapon, a sur­vi­val stra­tegy, and an ins­tru­ment of sub­ver­sion.

Nicole Terrien : “The Neo-Victorian novel : Hybrid or Intertextual Mosaic ?”

To study the Neo-Victorian novel, a genre (or sub-genre) that relies on the inter­cros­sing of two periods, on the intert­wi­ning of various forms of wri­ting, the notion of hybrid seems par­ti­cu­larly wel­come. We may consi­der Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) and Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) as the two foun­ding novels of a genre the cri­tics first valued for its open recourse to inter­tex­tua­lity, before it became known as neo-Victorian. Forty years later, the focus on the inter­tex­tual refe­ren­ces has not impai­red the value of the pro­cess and this should invite us to look at it from a dif­fe­rent angle. The per­sis­tence of what cannot be redu­ced to a fad inci­tes us to pay atten­tion to what has been achie­ved rather than to the mate­rials used in the pro­cess, to wonder at the very live­li­ness of such a pro­cess. The notion of the hybrid would allow us not to be petri­fied by a retros­pec­tive out­look, pro­ba­bly staged by the authors them­sel­ves to muffle the shock of a poten­tially sub­ver­sive confron­ta­tion. We will focus on the role of the all power­ful text of refe­rence, accep­ting at first the homage paid to the canon that an expli­cit refe­rence may incur. We will see that although this homage invol­ves the reader in the inter­pre­ta­tion of the cons­tantly rein­ter­pre­ted open work (Umberto Eco), it also allows the ack­now­led­ge­ment of texts now fallen into obli­vion. The Neo-Victorian novel offers to its reader a cons­tantly rein­ven­ted past rather then a remem­brance of things past : it points at fic­tion as the true ele­ment of refe­rence in our unders­tan­ding of the past. Inviting us to ques­tion codes of repre­sen­ta­tion, this exile in time allows us to forge in the smithy of our souls our uncrea­ted cons­cience, to copy Joyce’s words (“to forge in the smithy of my soul, the uncrea­ted cons­cience of my race”). Considering such vital stakes, the notion of hybrid/hybri­dity seems fruit­ful. On a syn­tag­ma­tic axis, it allows the confron­ta­tion of expe­rien­ces already trans­po­sed in lan­guage. On a para­dig­ma­tic axis, it unco­vers a depth that reveals that past strata of expe­rience may cons­ti­tute a favou­ra­ble ter­rain for the bud­ding of an indi­vi­dual form of cons­cious­ness. It ena­bles us to sug­gest, as an hypo­the­sis for fur­ther study, that the neo-Victorian novel is not just an hybrid form of the novel, but also – and above all ? – an hybrid form of the wri­ting of History.

Elise Trogrlic : “Instability as praxis : the hybrid as a cross of fai­lure and fer­ti­lity in John Edgar Wideman’s treat­ment of Giacometti”

In his novel Two Cities, the African-American nove­list John Edgar Wideman brings toge­ther an incongruous cultu­ral mee­ting bet­ween Martin Mallory, an old ama­teur pho­to­gra­pher living in Pittsburgh’s black ghetto, and the sculp­tor Alberto Giacometti. In let­ters addres­sed to Giacometti that Mallory never sends, Wideman arti­cu­la­tes a concep­tion of hybri­dity cha­rac­te­ris­tic of the esthe­tic preoc­cu­pa­tion of his nove­lis­tic pro­ject. By com­bi­ning a lite­rary reflec­tion with one on the visual arts, Wideman makes text and image meet at their brea­king point. Wideman’s fas­ci­na­tion with Giacometti comes from the ins­ta­bi­lity of his art­work, as well as the sculp­tor’s admis­sion of how repre­sen­ta­tion is doomed to fail. Two Cities show­ca­ses Wideman’s desire to cross artis­tic prac­ti­ces and to ini­tiate a dia­lo­gue bet­ween the arts : by dis­qua­li­fying all uni­vo­cal esthe­tic ideo­lo­gies, the text beco­mes a fer­tile ground pro­du­cing images, sounds, and mul­ti­ple voices, all of this some­ti­mes to the point of sha­pe­less­ness. This ins­ta­bi­lity beco­mes a praxis of des­ta­bi­li­za­tion that inclu­des syntax, nar­ra­tive voice, and tem­po­ral struc­ture. Through this, Wideman uti­li­zes hybri­dity to relaunch fic­tion wri­ting and to explore the limits of repre­sen­ta­tion.

Héliane Ventura : “Unadulterated Violence : The Hermeneutics of Hybridity in Native and Non-Native Fiction”

This pre­sen­ta­tion will address the resur­gence of vio­lence in three widely diver­ging and appa­rently dis­pa­rate contexts. In Canadian lite­ra­ture from the twen­tieth cen­tury, it will inves­ti­gate the motif of the Algonquin can­ni­ba­lis­tic Wendigo, or ice-hear­ted mons­ter with eyes of blood from Eden Robinson’s “Dogs in Winter” (Traplines, 1996), as well as the figure of the fami­li­ci­dal killer from Alice Munro’s latest col­lec­tion of sto­ries, “Free Radicals” (Too Much Happiness,2009). In Scottish lite­ra­ture from the nine­teenth cen­tury, it will bring into focus the fra­tri­ci­dal mur­de­rer from James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824). The pur­pose of the pre­sen­ta­tion is to look into stra­te­gies of repre­sen­ta­tion equally foun­ded upon jour­neys from vul­ne­ra­bi­lity to des­truc­tion in order to under­line the soli­da­rity bet­ween human pro­ta­go­nists and ani­mals and the com­pli­cit rever­si­bi­lity bet­ween des­troying and being des­troyed in three sets of sto­ries. Through the ana­ly­sis of the resur­gence of the visual into the tex­tual, it will sug­gest contact-zones in the lite­rary cons­truc­tion of pos­tin­dian, post­mo­dern, and gothic, hybrid iden­ti­ties.

Jean-Marc Victor : “Forms and Figures of Hybridity in William Faulkner’s Sanctuary”

The fear of mis­ce­ge­na­tion is a haun­ting pre­sence in the whole of William Faulkner’s fic­tion as well as in a large por­tion of the lite­rary pro­duc­tion ori­gi­na­ting from the South of the United States. Whether it is expe­rien­ced by cha­rac­ters as a ques­tio­ning of their iden­tity or a sign of some into­le­ra­ble decline in the reac­tio­nary and euge­nic context of the South, this fear crops up in the die­ge­sis as one of many ava­tars of impu­rity in Faulkner’s vast nove­lis­tic cycle. Although it is more cen­tral in other novels (nota­bly in Light in August), its cryp­tic and euphe­mi­zed nature in Sanctuary (1931) will be worth ana­ly­zing here as it affects the novel’s dra­ma­tic and aes­the­tic concerns. Popeye, the cold-bloo­ded impo­tent mur­de­rer and rapist, regard­less of his skin color but merely on account of the black suit he is cons­tantly shown wea­ring, is insis­tently and signi­fi­cantly des­cri­bed as “that black man” both by Temple Drake whom he raped with a corn­cob and Horace Benbow who vainly tries to save an inno­cent man wron­gly accu­sed in Popeye’s place. Temple’s own (incom­plete) account of her rape during her (anti-)confes­sion to Horace will be clo­sely exa­mi­ned, thus revea­ling various modes of hybri­dity deve­lo­ping in Faulkner’s text as a reac­tion to silence and cen­sor­ship. By making up retros­pec­tive ways of dod­ging the corn­cob rape and the sub­se­quent mons­trous hybri­di­za­tion bet­ween the human and the vege­ta­ble, Temple concei­ves of her­self as other, thus tur­ning her­serlf into an unex­pec­ted hybrid : she sees her­self as both man and child, the pro­duct of a gro­tes­que cross bet­ween Lady Macbeth (as Faulkner rewri­tes Shakespeare’s famous “unsexing” scene) and Alice in Wonderland (as Temple is made to embody a fake ingé­nue end­lessly meta­mor­pho­sed and thrown into a world of vio­lence where time and codes go ber­serk). In this inter­tex­tual expe­ri­ment based on formal hybri­dity, the codes of ‘hard-boiled fic­tion’ are also deeply alte­red, as if des­ta­bi­li­zed by the unli­kely encoun­ter bet­ween the young white virgin and the little “black man”.

Kerry-Jane Wallart : “Imperial autho­rity and Renaissance pers­pec­tive in Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence”

“The text, a vehi­cle of impe­rial autho­rity, sym­bo­li­zed and in some cases indeed per­for­med the act of taking pos­ses­sion”, Elleke Boehmer writes in the ope­ning pages of an impor­tant study about Migrant Metaphors that concerns itself with colo­nial and post­co­lo­nial wri­ting. She goes on to ana­lyse the way in which rhe­to­ric has lite­rally crea­ted the British Empire, with a last chap­ter dedi­ca­ted to how contem­po­rary authors have of rein­ter­pre­ting such a world-sha­ping concep­tion of lan­guage. Colonial lite­ra­ture has long been thought of as a res­ponse, voiced from the oppo­site van­tage point, to this bulk of lite­ra­ture. Salman Rushdie has, on the other hand, made a name for him­self as one who merges the two – or more – pers­pec­ti­ves in order to confuse any opi­nion, to dis­card any cer­tainty : the per­fect hybrid nove­list. The first part of the paper will indeed be concer­ned with sho­wing with what obses­sion he has been deemed “hybrid”, and what this meant exactly. More gene­rally, this paper will dis­cuss this scho­larly text, Migrant Metaphors, publi­shed in 2005 in the light of Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence. In his latest work, Rushdie once more seems to have penned a sta­te­ment of intent in favour of trans­cultu­ra­lism, huma­nism, the absence of any fixed pers­pec­tive, the perils of convic­tions and world­views. Vespucci and Akbar, the sym­bols of two dif­fe­rent, yet simi­lar Renaissances, could be seen to com­pose a hybrid cha­rac­ter, a story-teller used to making East and West meet. Still, my conten­tion will be that Rushdie rein­tro­du­ces a dis­tinct and dis­tinc­tive pers­pec­tive, some­thing which, after all, was the great esthe­tic issue of the Renaissance. I shall argue that the encoun­ter of cultu­res and the ensuing nar­ra­ti­ves are placed, in Rushdie’s novel, under the sign of a hidden unity, that of the author. Be he relia­ble or other­wise, he will impose his own voice over the entire novel ; the paper shall attempt to pin­point the various lin­guis­tic signs the­reof. Hybridity, then, is no longer a com­bi­na­tion of pers­pec­ti­ves, but a mons­trous asso­cia­tion of the same nature as that which had pre­vai­led during colo­nial times. It is one which tells of the other with one’s own words, and through one’s own screen. Such a vein will, inter alia, be scru­ti­ni­zed through the pre­vai­ling inter­text of Calvino’s Invisible Cities, where an ongoing dis­course bet­ween Marco Polo and Kublai Khan pro­du­ces des­crip­tions of cities loo­king, on the page, like those very places. In Step across the Line, Rushdie has prai­sed Calvino’s “mul­ti­pli­city”, but is is in the end his ico­no­gra­phic powers he even­tually covets and steals, making his text resem­ble the world as the Italian writer had.

David Waterman : “The Contact Zone in Wartime : Hybridity’s Promise and Terror in Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil”

Nadeem Aslam’s 2008 novel The Wasted Vigil is set in contem­po­rary war-torn Afghanistan, the English doctor’s house (for­merly sur­gi­cal clinic and per­fume fac­tory) having become the hub of a trans­cultu­ral space in which many per­so­nal memo­ries and col­lec­tive his­to­ries cata­lyze. While Afghans, Russians, a British doctor and Americans come toge­ther in this contact zone, it is by no means a safe-house, but often a zone of conflict as cer­tain cha­rac­ters resist the notion of an ambi­va­lent iden­tity, hence the “pro­mise and terror” of hybri­dity that Jopi Nyman (dis­cus­sing Homi Bhabha) refers to, and repre­sen­ted figu­ra­ti­vely in the novel by the statue of the Buddha and a land­mine, both buried in the yard. Certainly the autho­ri­ties prefer a fixed iden­tity – espe­cially during war­time – and in this case the Taliban and the CIA are both on hand to police ideo­lo­gi­cal alle­gian­ces and “place” people as friend or foe, fur­ther high­ligh­ting the dif­fi­culty of clai­ming an iden­tity which does not res­pect domi­nant para­digms. This upda­ted heart­break house func­tions as a micro­cosm of contem­po­rary Afghanistan, a time / space com­pres­sion of the various geo­po­li­ti­cal forces at work which threa­ten from without, as well as the indi­vi­dual sto­ries and trau­ma­tic memo­ries of those whom cir­cum­stan­ces bring toge­ther which threa­ten from within ; the house, like Afghanistan itself, beco­mes the ground for impor­ted bat­tles. In spite of many attempts, the pro­mise of a hybrid iden­tity and mutual unders­tan­ding is often elu­sive as oppor­tu­ni­ties are missed, sub­su­med under the terror of sus­pi­cion and ghosts from the past.

Eileen Williams-Wanquet : “Lindsey Collen’s The Rape of Sita (1993) : the Politics of Hybridity”

Lindsey Collen, a poli­ti­cal acti­vist, was born in South Africa in 1948. She lives in Mauritius and all her novels are rooted in Mauritian rea­lity. Set in the context of the “turn to ethics of the 1990s” in lite­ra­ture, The Rape of Sita (1993) para­doxi­cally and typi­cally asso­cia­tes both his­to­ri­city and meta­fic­tio­na­lity. The form of the novel is hybrid in more ways than one, and it is this hybrid form itself that confers a poli­ti­cal and ethi­cal dimen­sion on the novel, which re-thinks the sym­bo­lic sys­tems and power struc­tu­res that make up our psy­ches. The various trans­tex­tual refe­ren­ces blend both Indian and Western cultu­res and tra­di­tions : hyper­tex­tua­lity with the Indian epic Ramayana and Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece, serves to re-visit the more dif­fuse hypo­text that these “inter­pel­la­tive” texts trans­mit, i.e. the popu­lar mytho­logy that women are in some way res­pon­si­ble for having been raped. The set­ting in his­to­ri­cal time and space com­bi­nes both tra­di­tio­nal rea­lis­tic conven­tions and the post­mo­dern per­cep­tion of History as dis­course : the rea­lis­tic recontex­tua­li­sa­tion of the hypo­texts in the context of class strug­gles in the Mauritian society of the 1980s—­the patriar­chal ideo­logy of which is signal­led by inter­tex­tual refe­ren­ces to T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land—serves to decons­truct the patriar­chal myth, revea­ling its secret vio­lence, rape beco­ming a meta­phor for both public and pri­vate tyranny. The “anti-novel” nar­ra­tive stra­tegy asso­cia­tes both novel form and oral tra­di­tion, which, com­bi­ned with use of Hindu phi­lo­so­phy and of the recur­ring figure of the andro­gyne, offers a coun­ter-dis­course to the patriar­chal grand nar­ra­tive, cal­ling for a fun­da­men­tal change of the ima­gi­nary domain.

Laetitia Zecchini : “A his­to­ri­cal hybri­dity and stran­ge­ness in contem­po­rary Indian poetry”

This pre­sen­ta­tion aims at explo­ring the ques­tion of hybri­dity through the his­to­ri­cal and meta­pho­ri­cal notion of exile, as it was theo­ri­zed by Edward Saïd. This his­to­ri­cal expe­rience of dis­lo­ca­tion, which implies a “double vision”, a plu­ra­lity of ways of seeing, lan­gua­ges and tra­di­tions pre­vents from consi­de­ring one­self as the owner or pro­prie­tor of memory, of lan­guage and iden­tity. Exile also implies a radi­cal break or “unhea­la­ble rift” through which other worlds and other­ness may be expe­rien­ced. Edward Saïd defi­nes the “exilic condi­tion” as a shif­ting ground, an unre­sol­ved dia­lec­ti­cal ten­sion bet­ween dif­fe­rent belon­gings and inhe­ri­tan­ces, which have to be held toge­ther, in an unre­conci­led com­plexity. Exile thus also has a cri­ti­cal and trans­gres­sive signi­fi­cance that sub­verts all majo­ri­ta­rian dis­cour­ses, quest for ori­gins and homo­ge­neous linea­ges. It is pre­ci­sely the hete­ro­ge­neity and stran­ge­ness brought about by his­tory, which is poe­ti­cally and poli­ti­cally at stake today in India. Exploring the ques­tion of hybri­dity in the Indian context is all the more inte­res­ting that the poro­sity of lin­guis­tic fron­tiers, of cen­ters and peri­phe­ries, but also of tra­di­tions, trans­la­tions and texts is one of the defi­ning prin­ci­ples of Indian culture. It is through lan­guage that this hybri­dity is per­for­med and that Indian poets wri­ting in English (Arun Kolatkar, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and others), a dis­pla­ced lan­guage, nego­tiate their own voice and space. They refuse to be cir­cum­scri­bed or defi­ned in one lan­guage, one past, one iden­tity and claim a mar­gi­na­lity which also stands, para­doxi­cally, for hos­pi­ta­lity. Through this poe­tics of hybri­dity and mul­ti­lin­gua­lism, the fecund inter­play with trans­la­tion that blurs the fron­tiers bet­ween lan­gua­ges, authors, epochs, so-called ori­gi­nal texts and their sub­se­quent retel­lings, it is the idea of “pro­priety” and “pro­perty” that is unset­tled. For a poetry hove­ring over boun­dary lines, the ques­tions of a proper lan­guage, a proper his­tory or of what would be “authen­ti­cally” and “pro­perly” Indian are irre­le­vant

Tania Zulli : “Identities in Transition : Hybridism in R. L. Stevenson’s Colonial Fiction”

On the Jubilee year (1887), Queen Victoria deci­ded she would have an Indian atten­dant at court, “to bring the Empire into the dining room” (Richard Mullen and James Munson, Victoria. Portrait of a Queen, p. 111). The pre­sence of orien­tal faces and exotic per­fu­mes at Windsor Castle hid the wish to intro­duce the idea of an open, tole­rant coun­try, whose views would include people from the colo­nies as an ordi­nary ele­ment of eve­ry­day life. However, the cultu­ral fabric that lay beneath the image of a see­min­gly cos­mo­po­li­tan nation was com­plex, contro­ver­sial and still not well defi­ned : a cru­cial point lied in the very per­cep­tion of nati­ves as new enti­ties to be faced. English nine­teenth-cen­tury men of culture did not consi­der the pre­sence of the ‘other’ as an admis­si­ble thing ; confron­ta­tion caused a pro­found sense of bewil­der­ment that did not allow for rene­wed strength, but only fos­te­red more ambi­guity empha­si­zing the idea of hybri­dity as a form of moral cor­rup­tion that shook the empire in its epis­te­mic foun­da­tions. The conti­nuous oscil­la­tion bet­ween the need to find com­ple­te­ness through the figure of ‘the other’ and the fear of an actual mee­ting with diver­sity was the lea­ding – and often unde­res­ti­ma­ted – cha­rac­te­ris­tic of the age. My paper intends to ana­lyze the idea of hybri­dity in Late Victorian colo­nial fic­tion as a theo­re­ti­cal assump­tion based on and influen­ced by contras­ting ideo­lo­gi­cal forces ; by so doing, I will explore the value of inter­ra­cial encoun­ters in late nine­teenth-cen­tury colo­nial fic­tion in order to show the nati­ves as “his­to­ri­cal palimp­sest[s]” (Elleke Boehmer, Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, p. 79). By moving on the paral­lel fields of culture and lite­ra­ture, I will argue that the impe­rial ‘other’ was, des­pite ideo­lo­gi­cal and intel­lec­tual mani­fes­ta­tions of into­le­rance and repul­sion, an inte­gral part of domes­tic culture, and repre­sen­ted a fruit­ful oppo­si­tion to the well esta­bli­shed, urba­ni­zed, social self. To this end, R. L. Stevenson’s short story “The Beach of Falesà” (in South Sea Tales, 1893) will be ana­ly­zed as a nar­ra­tive moving bet­ween the two axio­lo­gi­cal oppo­si­tes of assu­med colo­nial autho­rity and feared native dege­ne­ra­tion. In the story, the pro­ta­go­nist’s final status reflects a new white indi­vi­dual iden­tity appa­rently built on ideo­lo­gi­cal immo­bi­lity but actually relying on cultu­ral and intel­lec­tual dyna­mism, confir­ming both the “impos­si­bi­lity of essen­tia­lism” (Robert Young, 1995) and the neces­sity of cross-cultu­ral sophis­ti­ca­tion.