Mimicry, Double-Consciousness and Hybridity in Caryl Phillips' The Pagan Coast
Keywords:mimicry, double-consciousness, hybridity, colonial, post-colonial
This article examines closely the literary implications of the concepts of “mimicry,” “double-consciousness” and “hybridity” as philosophized by the postmodern critic Homi Bhabha and the Black American critic W. E. Du Bois, respectively. We have chosen author Caryl Phillips’ novel Crossing the River, its first episode in particular- “The Pagan Coast,” for we find what these terms connote is felt in the up-and-down development of the character named Nash Williams. First, the article quotes from Bhabha’s The Location of Culture to show how “mimicry” displaces imperialism from the center by exposing the imperil ideology from within. This center will eventually encompass some other discourses coming from the margin. Then the argument delves deep into the various narratologicl voices and focal perspectives, be they black or white, that Nash passes through to reflect the radical changes in his identity. We quote the Bible to highlight the similarities between the imperial ideology and Nash’s discourse. Secondly, “double-consciousness” is included as referred to by Du Bois in his The Souls of Black Folk. The article discusses how “double-consciousness” paves the way for “hybridity” to be the essence of a new culture since it calls for maintaining cultural aspects different cultures take in. A thematically third section is Bhabha’s “hybridity” back again to The Location of Culture, as a solution to the warring clashes in unstable identities. The article reaches the conclusion that “mimicry” and “hybridity” are the tools for a “double-conscious” reconciliation which is not following a single ideology but a hybridized one. The literary manifestations of this hybrid culture are growing a garden with American seeds and tools on the African land and educating the native Africans in reading and writing besides sustaining the Liberian cultural codes with Christianity.
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