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  The conceptual boundaries produced by dominant discourses often depend on binary divisions between an other and a same; hybridity refers to those things and processes that transgress and displace such boundaries and in so doing produce something ontologically new. The term is often used in discussions of the cultural politics of globalization. As (some) people, images and commodities move around the world with increasing frequency and speed, it is argued that certain divisions become harder to sustain. In particular, the Identity of the modern nation-state, imagined in terms of a bounded and uniform community, is challenged by acknowledging the post-colonial practices that rupture its boundary and challenge its apparent uniformity: the complex cultural negotiations of the (post-)colonial contact zone (Pratt, 1992), the senses of place wrought by those migrating from (ex-)colonies to the contemporary western metropolis (Sharp, 1994), and the identities of those never admitted into the imagined community of the western nation (Bhabha, 1994), for example. Bhabha (1994) argues that hybridity is thus a means of challenging particular understandings of same and Other more generally. Specifically, he argues that hybrid selves refute binary understandings, typical of the West, that construct the western self only in relation to stereotyped notions of non-Western peoples. Hybridity is also used in other contexts as a strategy for displacing Western processes of Othering. It can refer to the constitution of new forms of identity in fields other than the post-colonial (Rose, 1994; Smith, 1996). It has also been extended to nature as the Other of culture, and to objects and animals as the Other of the human self, in work which explores the agency of the physical environment and of objects, often by drawing on actor-network theory (Battersbury et al., 1997; Whatmore, 1997).

These arguments suggest the need to think of space in particular ways. The spaces of hybridity may be spaces of flows and connections rather than of divided territories, for example, and some of these new spaces are perhaps not yet recognizable (Sharp, 1994; Rose, 1995; see also third space). However, hybridity is not necessarily an easy position to occupy and the power relations implicit in its geographies are diverse and complex (Rose, 1995). Massey (1994, pp. 157-73), for example, points out that some forms of hybridity are empowering and others disempowering and concludes that hybrid spaces display a \'power-geometry\' that demands attention in a critical analysis. Other cautious approaches to hybridity include that of Young (1995), who worries that the term hybrid, with its geneticist overtones, may actually reinstate and naturalize the Other and its opposite even as it claims to displace the distinctions between them. (GR)

References Battersbury, S. et al. 1997: Environmental transformations in developing countries: hybrid research and democratic policy. Geographical Journal 163: 126-32. Bhabha, H. 1994: The location of culture. London: Routledge. Massey, D. 1994: Space, place and gender. Cambridge: Polity Press. Pratt, M.L. 1992: Imperial eyes: travel writing and transculturation. London: Routledge. Rose, G. 1994: The cultural politics of place: local representation and oppositional discourse in two films. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 19: 46-60. Rose, G. 1995: The interstitial perspective: a review essay on Homi Bhabha\'s The Location of Culture. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13: 365-73. Sharp, J. 1994: A topology of \'post\' nationality: (re) mapping identity in The Satanic Verses. Ecumene 1: 65-76. Smith, F. 1996: Problematising language: limitations and possibilities in foreign language research. Area 28: 160-6. Whatmore, S. 1997: Dissecting the autonomous self: hybrid cartographies for a relational ethics. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 15: 37-53. Young, R.J.C. 1995: Colonial desire: hybridity in theory, culture and race. London: Routledge.



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