Of Mimicry And Man Summary

Of Mimicry And Man Summary By Homi Bhabha

This article will cover the topic “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence Of Colonial Discourse” written by Homi Bhabha. If you are a literature student and want “Of Mimicry and Man Summary and Analysis” you must read this article. 

Of Mimicry And Man Summary In Brief

We can see mimicry most commonly in colonial and postcolonial literature when the language, dress, politics, or cultural attitude of the colonizers is imitated by the colonized society.   

Mimicry is seen as an opportunistic pattern of behavior where a person copies the person who is in power in the hope to have access to a similar power. When a person copies his master, he is supposed to suppress his original cultural identity. 

However, there are certain instances when the cultural encounter confuses immigrants and colonial subjects with a dominant foreign culture so much that there is not available any preexisting identity that needs to be suppressed. 

People often see mimicry as something that is shameful. The other members of the group often deride a black or brown person who engages in mimicry. 

Although, when it comes to thinking about the relationship between colonizing and colonized people, mimicry is believed to be an important concept, and there have been many mimics who were derided historically, there is still no one who ever described themselves as engaged positively in mimicry, mimicry has always been something that someone else is doing.  

Concept Of Mimicry By Bhabha

In the essay Of Mimicry and Man, Homi Bhabha has unintentionally described mimicry as something rebellious. He took this concept from the idea of ‘performative’ by J.L. Austin. 

He says that mimicry is a kind of performance that exposes all the symbolic expressions of power. For instance, if an Indian wants to mimic an Englishman, he will pick some special symbols or codes connected to Englishness and gets obsessed with that. 

When he mimics an Englishman, the mimicry depicts that this code is so hollow like the obsession of British colonies with the sola topee, no matter how correct we find it. 

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Of Mimicry And Man Summary And Analysis In Detail

Critical theorist and English scholar from India, Homi K. Bhabha. One of the most significant figures in modern post-colonial studies, he is. He has created a variety of important ideas, including ambivalence, mimicry, hybridity, and difference.

Bhabha defines mimicry in “Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse.”

Since it has come to depict the contradictory connection between colonizer and colonized, mimicry has grown in importance in postcolonial theory. when colonial discourse exhorts the colonized subject to imitate the colonizer by aping the colonizer’s cultural customs, presumptions, institutions, and ideals.

There is never just a straightforward reproduction of those qualities. Instead, what emerges is a hazy replica of the colonizer that can be seriously dangerous. This is so because mimicry and mockery are inextricably linked. It can make whatever it resembles seem parodic. As a result, imitation identifies a flaw in the confidence of colonial dominance and a doubt in its ability to influence the actions of the colonized.

The first claim made in the essay is that colonization causes irony, imitation, and repetition. One of the most elusive and successful methods of colonial power and knowledge develops as an imitation. Bhabha uses this example to highlight the powerful character of colonial mimicry, but she leaves it unclear to whom it confers power.

He contends that it can be utilized by the colonized to overthrow the colonizer. He implies that as colonial relations develop and there is an ongoing conflict between imperial power’s ambition for ongoing dominance and control and the course of history. These two elements combine to produce mimicry, an improbable outcome

According to Bhabha, the need for change recognized others as the object of a difference that is nearly identical but not quite what colonial mimicry is. It indicates that the colonizer seeks to enhance the other and make him more like himself while still maintaining a distinct feeling of difference. In this way, the colonized become nearly identical to the other, yet the other never completely fit into the dominant cultural and political structures. He keeps demonstrating that in order for colonial mimicry to be effective. It must keep expressing its ambivalence, which he terms difference. 

According to the concept of ambivalence, culture is made up of contradictory perspectives and dimensions. This ambivalence helps explain why colonial power is distinguished by its tardiness. As a result, the colonial presence is still ambiguous. It alternates between presenting itself as unique and authoritative and articulating itself as a repetition.

It’s common to view imitation as being shameful. Black or brown people who mimic others are typically mocked for doing so by other people in their community. There are a lot of slang terms that make fun of mimicry, such as “coconut” to refer to a brown person who acts like a white person or “Oren” to refer to a black person who does the same thing. 

When it comes to Homi Bhabha’s analysis of the ambivalence of colonial discourse, the word imitation has been essential. It demonstrates the boundaries of colonial discourse’s authority. It is possible to trace the ancestry of the mimicry man in Macaulay’s literature through the works of Kipling, Forster, Orwell, and Naipaul. Mimicry can have multiple layers and be ambivalent.

A frequent overt objective of colonial policy has been imitation. For instance, Lord Macaulay defended India and mocked Oriental education in his 1835 Minute To Parliament. He proposed that a group of interpreters serve as a conduit between the millions of people who control us and the wealth of European scholarship. 

It referred to a group of people who were English in intelligence, preferences, and opinions yet of Indian descent and skin color. He goes on to show that colonial mimicry must continue to display its differences in order for it to be effective since it not only gives the colonizer authority but also turns the colonized into an instrument for subversion.

In a brief discussion of Locke’s second book, Bhabha claims that the displaced gaze of the disciplinary double threatens the reforming, civilizing mission in the region between mimicry and ridicule. There is a difference between ridicule, which seems more subversive and hostile, and imitation, which has a polite tone. By mimicking, the colonial subject endangers the colonial mission. Only a small amount of belief systems, etc. are proliferated as a result of this fear.

He explains that mimicry can be a subversive tactic since it weakens the authority of the colonizer by producing imitators. The conflicting feelings imply that the civilizing mission is ineffective because it only permits Anglicization. It does not seek to completely convert Indians into Englishmen.

His final argument contends that the founding elements of western civilization are transformed into the chaotic, peculiar, and unintentional elements of the colonial discourse. They kind of lose all meaning. They only partially object as a result of the colonizer’s existence. The colonized will always be slightly non-white because the colonizer was unable to successfully instill his ideals in them.

In a far more direct manner, imitation may either be harmful or liberating. It is when the imitation of western notions of justice, freedom, and the rule of law is involved. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster serves as an illustration of it. The British Anglo-Indian frightens Mr. Amrit Rao, a minor character in this book who works as a lawyer in Calcutta.

Because he is familiar enough with British legal ideas to understand that Indians should be subject to the same rules as British citizens. He was educated abroad and worked as an English-speaking lawyer in British India. He might be ridiculed as a babu or a mimicry man. A defensive worry that the British legal system is not quite as fair as it should be is covered by mockery.

The derived concepts of justice, democracy, and equality tended to become ingrained in local society through time. M.K. Gandhi was the one who best embraced adoption. He combined modern western ideas of socialism with symbols of Indian asceticism and simplicity, such as the dhoti and cloth of traditional Indian dress. He inspired the common Indians by using this novel combination of concepts. He transformed Indian nationalism into something that was distinctly and only Indian.

Here, it might be helpful to briefly discuss reverse mimicry, in which British subjects either impersonated Indians or Africans in real life or fantasized about doing so. Richard Francis Boston may be the best illustration of this type of reverse imitation. During his tenure as a colonial administrator, he frequently tries to pass for an Arab or Indian.

As a result, ambivalence always exists where colonial dominance occurs. Where it is most ambivalent, the cultural output is always at its most fruitful. Bhabha owes a lot to post-structuralism for his work in postcolonial theory.

Derrida and deconstruction, Lacan and psychoanalysis, and Michel Foucault are notable influences on him. He acknowledged that Edward’s words had the most impact on him. He uses sarcasm, mimicry, and repetition to summarize the outcome of colonialism in one word, which is ambivalence. In his subsequent research, the ambivalent subject is examined as a Third Space creator.

Final Words

This was the detailed explanation of “On Mimicry and Man”. If there are any amendments needed in the article, kindly provide your suggestions in the comment box. Also, check out our article on The Laugh Of The Medusa Summary – The Laugh Of Medusa Helene Cixous and The Visitor Poem Summary And Analysis – Nissim Ezekiel

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