Bhabha & Company

For my group’s presentation, I had the task of identifying the thinker or texts that help the writer build his argument. This was an incredibly exhausting task, granted that, Homi Bhabha’s introduction to Location of Culture, was crawling with a large number of sources. My presentation primarily consisted of a lengthy attempt at revealing the instances where Bhabha used other works or thinkers, then I discussed how these works may or may not have helped to further the piece.

However, for this blog, I have opted for a different approach to make the critical context less exhaustive. While Bhabha mentions many references, he mainly focuses on two novels for constructing his argument. The first text he heavily focuses on is Toni Morrison’s, Beloved. He later begins working with Nadine Gordimer’s, My Son’s Story. He specifically discusses the placement of two female characters in these texts.

Bhabha posits that he has, “ended this argument with the woman framed—Gordimer’s Aila—and the woman renamed—Morrison’s Beloved—because in both their houses great world events erupted—slavery and apartheid—and their happening was turned, through that peculiar obscurity of art, into a second coming” (18). This indicates that the ways women function in a domestic space is highly contingent on the state of the government. The idea that these institutions of oppression are turned into a “second coming” was a bit confusing, but I assume it is referring to reconstruction of these worlds in a work of literature (this is something you may find useful or can completely ignore). This quote may be used to discuss womanhood in the political climate of the historical context for certain texts that lack division between the home and state. Regarding this, one may also discuss the stereotypes surrounding the domestic role of women and the role of men in politics. This could help with forming an argument based on male hegemony. A good text for discussing this is Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper”. While this text does not address post-colonialism or the plight of the black woman, it can provide insight on the role of patriarchy inside and outside of the home.

To further this discussion, you may incorporate Bhabha’s use of the term, “unhomeliness”, which he credits to Henry James’, The Portrait of a Lady. In reference to this term, Bhabha explains that, “The recesses of the domestic space become sites for history’s most intricate invasions. In that displacement, the borders between home and world become confused; and, uncannily, the private and the public become part of each other, forcing upon us a vision that is as divided as it is disorienting” (9). The description of this as an “invasion”, is possibly the most helpful point in Bhabha’s statement. The affairs of the home should be addressed within that realm; however, political policies and public issues somehow find themselves within domestic walls. This is a good platform for discussing how this “invasion” is done and the ways that women are affected by it.