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An Analysis of Cultural Hybridity in A Bend in the River

Author ZhengQiKui
Tutor DanXueMei
School Xinjiang University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords V.S.Naipaul Post-colonialism A Bend in the River Cultural Mimicry Cultural Hybridity Cultural Displacement
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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In 1978 Edward Said had his work Orientalism published and“post-colonialism”as a school of thought was established. Since then, this theoretical term has been widely concerned and become the cynosure of critical theories both in cultural studies and literary criticism. The turn of critical theories represents deconstruction’s triumph and the flow of power. Edward Said, Gayatri Chakakravorty Spivak and Hommi Bhabha are the representative souls in this field. Although they cast their eyes on different dimensions of post-colonial reality, the interaction between center and“other”and resistant tactic or strategy employed by the colonized are their common concerns. The introduction of“post-colonialism”from cultural studies to literary criticism fuels scholars’wide-spread interest in issues such as power and hegemony reflected in literary texts. Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, the winner of 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature, has been labelled as a post-colonial writer primarily because of his complicated background and plurality of his education and cultural experience. Naipaul is accordingly entitled to reflect on cultural issues in postcolonial countries like mimicry, hybridity and displacement. In his work BR, Naipaul shows his concern about those cultural themes, whereas he holds a bleak view towards the future of the Third World countries since independence, which, on the contrary, signifies his endorsement of colonialism and its legitimacy. It is his political stance in this work that ushers him into castigation from those who show sympathy towards the people in the colonized regions.The thesis tries to probe into post-colonial themes reflected in BR. V.S.Naipaul in the fiction describes social and natural chaos and psychic anxiety of the people in post-colonial society. Historical fissure and break-down of colonial system account for the social and psychological phenomena. Since there is no history or convention to trace back to, ideology of binary opposition, viz. civilized/barbarian starts its journey to wield influence on the colonized. Mimicry successfully becomes a stratagem for identity. The Big Man’s mimicry mainly serves his political drive and mass’s mimicry aims to be okayed by the center. If we consider the west as male and the non-west female based on Euro-centric context, culturally constructed gendered subject, namely, the lower, is less likely to accept approval. Hence, mimicry, however hard, is doomed and gives rise to cultural hybridity, which is mainly embodied in Ferdinand, Indar and Salim, who have different cultural experiences. The overlap of different cultures forms cultural hybridity and then cognitive mapping changes. Automatic renouncement of one’s own culture further solidifies exotic culture and the absence of resistant mechanism is responsible for cultural displacement.The novel BR is mainly involved in such thematic matters as mimicry, hybridity and displacement, through which Naipaul reflects on post-colonial society and broods upon the future of the ever-colonized zone. Post-colonial reading done in this thesis is expected to deepen the comprehension of this novel.

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