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History has shown that the notion of hybridity has existed far before it was popularized in postcolonial theory. However, in this time after imperialism, globalization has both expanded the reach of Western culture, and has allowed a process by which the West constantly interacts with the East. This hybridity is evident in every snapshot of society, from trends in "fusion" cuisine to the adoption of Caribbean rhythms in popular music. Ethnic Americans are marked with hyphenated identities: "Indian-American," "Asian-American," illuminating the lived experience of ties to a dominant culture coinciding with the cultural codes of a third world culture. This paper explores how hybridity counters essentialism and offers the opportunity for a counter-narrative, a means by which the subordinated can take part in the practice of representation and claim shared ownership of a culture that relies upon them for meaning. Examining hybridity in terms of race, language, and nation will show how the deconstruction of cultural boundaries can be seen as a means of transforming accepted ideas of identity and formulating a new form of collective politics. Ultimately, this demonstration of boundaries will illustrate the value of dissecting the words and images we accept as truths in order to expose the fallacies that pit collectives against one another and perpetuate social inequality.


This article originally appeared in Formations: The Graduate Center Journal of Social Research, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2010). Formations was published by the Sociology Students Association of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

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