Bhabha on the Creole South

Hybridity is the name of the game when it comes to Creole, both the dialect and the culture! Homi Bhabha’s theory about hybridization is as follows:

“Hybridity, in Homi K. Bhabha’s formulation, can perhaps be best understood as an argument against the concept of western liberal multiculturalism. Multiculturalism, manifested as a celebration and encouragement of “cultural diversity,” suggests that “culture” for any given group is an object with clearly defined boundaries and traits that are long-standing, “authentic,” and easily observable. Bhabha explains, however, that this concept of an “authentic” culture, even in the context of a supposed celebration of cultural diversity or in an effort of colonial resistance, can be part of an imperial project that defines “other” cultures in a mythologized and often exoticized way, and part of a project that effectively provides the subaltern (the most oppressed groups) with an externally-formed identity, not with agency of their own…Bhabha argues that a new, hybrid conception of culture is necessary to develop a truly international culture, and to dismantle systems of cultural dominance, but he argues that this new concept should be centered around ‘cultural difference’ rather than ‘cultural diversity.'” —————Stephanie Cawley, Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project

Creole was not named Creole by the people who spoke the mixture of French, Spanish, and English; the name was created by the cultures surrounding the Creole cajuns of the south.  It was in fact the original name used by the French to refer to the French that colonized the area, aka the ones outside of colonial France. The term later transfered to the African slaves brought to the south to work, and the term ‘Creole’ expanded to not only language, but culture. Creole people now refers more generally to people of mixed background and ancestry, but when referring to “Louisiana Creole,” the language and cultural component become tied together. This hybridity has created in essence a ‘new’ culture, drawing on influences ranging from African, Native American, Spanish, French, and American traditions.

The dialect is perhaps the most literal example of hybridity. Referred to commonly as ‘Cajun Slang,’ the Creole language of the south, particularly Louisiana, is a mix of words in French, English, African dialects, and roots of Native American words, making it extremely hard to learn. In fact, some families speak more in French than others, and vice versa for English. The official term is Louisiana Creole French (Kréyol La Lwizyàn).

What could be more hybrid than 4 languages mashed together into a regional dialectic form?

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