Culture and Difference: Critical Perspectives on the Bicultural Experience in the United States

Culture and Difference: Critical Perspectives on the Bicultural Experience in the United States

Culture and Difference: Critical Perspectives on the Bicultural Experience in the United States

Culture and Difference: Critical Perspectives on the Bicultural Experience in the United States

Synopsis

The yearning to remember who we are is not easily detected in the qualitative dimensions of focus groups and ethnographic research methods; nor is it easily measured in standard quantified scientific inquiry. It is deeply rooted, obscured by layer upon layer of human efforts to survive the impact of historical amnesia induced by the dominant policies and practices of advanced capitalism and postmodern culture. Darder's introduction sets the tone by describing the formation of "Warriors for Gringostroika" and "The New Mestizas." In the words of Anzaldua, "those who cross over, pass over . . . the confines of the normal.'" Critical essays follow by Mexicanas, poets, activists, and educators of all colors and persuasions. The collection coming out of the good work of the Southern California University system relates to all locales and spectrums of the human condition and will no doubt inspire excellent creativity of knowing and remembering among all who chance to read any part thereof.

Excerpt

Henry A. Giroux

Increasingly, the fractured realities that constitute diverse cultural traditions and experiences have called into question the meaning of national identity, what it means to be an American, and how as educators we address the formation of new publics of difference as a defining principle of democratic society. For many of us, the tropes of border and borderland suggest a sense of flux, movement, and in-betweenness in which it becomes increasingly difficult for any singular notion of ethnicity, class, gender, or culture to "inhabit any claim to identity in [a] (post)modern world" (Bhabha, 1994, p. 15). Many conservatives and liberals see in the emerging claims to difference a threat to national identity and what it means to be an American. Difference in this context becomes transgressive because it infringes on the norms of the monocultural status quo and in doing so unsettles and calls into question the institutions, histories, languages, and social relationships that produce the process of "othering." What must be clear here is cultural differences that cannot be managed, assimilated, or incorporated as fashion and spectacle become dangerous because they offer the possibilities through language, social movements, and radical cultural work to challenge borders that are racist, sexist, hierarchical, and oppressive.

When cultural differences are not linked to primordial identities, they function as sites of complexity and dialogue, as identities formed in transit. It is precisely within such an in-between space that "social differences are at once a vision and a construction that takes you 'beyond' yourself in order to return, in a spirit of revision and reconstruction, to the political conditions of the present" (Bhabha, 1994, p. 16). What is significnt about the relationship between politics and difference in this formulation is that questions of identity and community, inclusion and exclusion, voice and representations, exceed . . .

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