Defined as “a cross between two separate races, plants or cultures,” the term “hybridity” has become even more significant in the contexts of cultural and postcolonial studies. The possibility of establishing/dismantling paradigms and social conjectures based on mixtures and interchanges between cultures has sparked the interest of scholars, who have developed different theories to explain how hybridity occurs, what it entails and what its consequences are. One of the main scholars in the field of cultural studies is the American choreographer Ralph Lemon, who argued that cultural categories are “unstable, fluid, or porous.” And this lack of established, rigid, or unpenetrable structure is what allows for different means of combining different cultures.
Nonetheless, simply defining “hybridity” as combining cultures does not really explain what this keyword entails in the context of the readings. Hence, as a basis for furthering understanding, it is relevant to explain why understanding cultural hybridity is necessary, or at least important. Based on the readings, Profeta claims that “Ralph’s examinations of racial and cultural allegiances always hit up against how our conceptions of identity are at once deeply meaningful and deeply inadequate, and instances of hybridity served well to underline both instances” (171). In this context, the existence of hybridity within the context of identity formation and conceptualizations serves as a platform that emphasizes our tendency to “deeply” over-complicate or over-simplify an individual’s identity. I would argue that, in most times, there is a tendency to over-simplify identities due to our inability to comprehend hybrids of multiple identities, and how they can be intertwined, hence complementing (or even contradicting) other identities that are still part of the individual. By comprehending the interplay between hybridity and identity, one becomes then able to understand how identities are fluid and always changing, merging, mixing, and replacing.
The lack of understanding of how identities can be fluid has led to many problems throughout history, and this is why the word hybridity is so useful and interesting to me. I came to this realization after reading the book In The Name of Identity: Violence and The Need to Belong, written by Amin Maalouf. Throughout his book, he argues that the very superficial way we perceive identity has led to persecutions, conflicts, wars and genocides. Therefore, I think that enhancing the understanding of what hybridity means in the context of identity is crucial so that people are able to better comprehend how complex identities are and, hence, become more tolerant towards ‘the other.’
Works CitedHybridity "Revolvy." Accessed 8 Jan 2018. https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Hybridity. Profeta, Katherine. "Interculturalism" Dramaturgy in Motion: At Work on Dance and Movement Performance. 168-209. USA: The University of Wisconsin, 2015.
Please italicize book titles! Hybridity is a complicated notion and always, the danger is that it is oversimplifed and doesn’t make the influences legible to other in an intercultural encounter. But we are all hybrids, porous, mixed and touched by different contacts. However, Ralph Lemon himself made some assumptions that people are often hybrid in the same way or, more specifically, that they want to use their hybridity toward the same end. But I come back to the negotiations with the West African dancers, who viewed their dance as a spiritual practice — and not concert dance as Ralph practices the art. Ralph couldn’t recognize dance itself and how it functioned on a spiritual and communal plane for the dancers. So while hybridity is most often thought of in terms of race, here dance itself became a hybrid form that operated on different registers in the intercultural encounter — but Ralph couldn’t recognize that. Hybridity has to be unpacked it seems and it only happens through misrecognitions and renegotiations.