Beyond the Binary: Reconstructing Cultural Identity in a Multicultural Context

Beyond the Binary: Reconstructing Cultural Identity in a Multicultural Context

Beyond the Binary: Reconstructing Cultural Identity in a Multicultural Context

Beyond the Binary: Reconstructing Cultural Identity in a Multicultural Context

Excerpt

Cultural studies has reached a theoretical impasse. For the past twenty years, the central project of Cultural Studies has been to deconstruct the epistemological structures of Eurocentrism and to recover historical voices that were overlooked because of an entrenched ethnocentrism that privileged the elite, white, heterosexual, abled, male, European perspective. One of the most effective strategies in this initial phase of the cultural deconstruction of Eurocentrism was the identification of theoretical binaries such as Self/Other, Center/Margin, Colonizer/Colonized that helped scholars to delineate the inner workings of oppression and to establish a critical paradigm that would allow minority voices not only to be heard but to be esteemed as a critically important point of view. It has become cleat in recent years, however, that a binary form of analysis that collapses a myriad of distinct culture voices into the overly simplistic category of "Other" defined in relationship to a European "Self is theoretically problematic. The time has come, therefore, to initiate a new critical epoch, a period of cultural reconstruction in which "identity" is reconfigured in the midst of a multiplicity of cultural influences that more closely resembles what Homi Bhabha has called the "lived perplexity" of people's lives and that more accurately reflects the multicultural complexities that have historically characterized "American" identity.

This is not to say, however, that this initial phase of binary analysis was not terribly important and absolutely necessary. The emphasis that Cultural Studies placed on reconfiguring the canon to include "marginal" perspectives has led to a remarkable diversification of "American" identity. The progress that has been made in this direction is exemplified by the addition within . . .

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