Hybridity, or the Cultural Logic of Globalization

Hybridity, or the Cultural Logic of Globalization

Hybridity, or the Cultural Logic of Globalization

Hybridity, or the Cultural Logic of Globalization

Synopsis

Hybridity, the interaction of people and media from different cultures, is a communication-based phenomenon. Drawing on original research from Lebanon to Mexico and analyzing the use of the term in cultural and postcolonial studies (as well as the popular and business media), Marwan Kraidy offers readers a history of the idea and a set of prescriptions for its future use. Kraidy analyzes the use of the concept of cultural mixture from the first century AD to its present application in the academy and the commercial press. The case studies build an argument for understanding the importance of the dynamics of communication, power, and political-economy as well as culture, in situations of hybridity. Suggesting that such an approach will serve as a useful way to examine how media work in international context, he concludes the book by proposing a new method for studying cultural mixture: critical transculturalism.

Excerpt

Hybridity is almost a good idea, but not quite.

—Nicholas Thomas

HYBRIDITY IS a risky notion. It comes without guarantees. Rather than a single idea or a unitary concept, hybridity is an association of ideas, concepts, and themes that at once reinforce and contradict each other. The varied and sometimes contradictory nature of its use points to the emptiness of employing hybridity as a universal description of culture. Indeed, we learn very little when we repeat glibly that every culture is hybrid or, as happens too often, when fragments of discourse or data are cobbled together and called hybridity in several registers— historical, rhetorical, existential, economic, and so on. It is therefore imperative to situate every analysis of hybridity in a specific context where the conditions that shape hybridities are addressed.

I hope that this book improves our understanding of the role of communication in the making of hybridities. Communication practices as varied as journalism (Chapter Four), media production (Chapter Five), and media reception (Chapter Six) create hybridity as a notion, an ideology, or an existential experience. Social agents with a variety of motivations and objectives muster communication processes to articulate versions of hybridity that suit their purposes. In colonial Mexico, postcolonial Lebanon, neocolonial Washington, and elsewhere, hybridity comes in different guises and with different effects.

The challenge before us is therefore not to come up with an allpurpose, final definition of hybridity, but to find a way to integrate different types of hybridity in a framework that makes the connections between these types both intelligible and usable. With that goal in mind, I have shaped this book as a reclamation of a critical and historically informed approach to international communication. After dissecting the deficiencies of the cultural imperialism thesis and its would-be substitute “cultural globalization,” I propound critical transculturalism as a new international communication framework with issues of hybridity at its . . .

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