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mimicry


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A term used in Postcolonial Studies to describe the paradoxical (or doubly articulated) state of affairs in colonial countries whereby the colonial power desires its subjugated others, namely the indigenous population of the occupied country, to look or at least act the same as the occupiers and yet fear that very outcome because it would dilute their own sense of difference and superiority. Mimicry is thus, as Homi Bhabha theorizes, an ambivalent strategy whereby subaltern peoples simultaneously express their subservience to the more powerful and subvert that power by making mimicry seem like mockery. A contemporary form of this can be seen today in the way in which call centre jobs from Australia, the UK, US, and elsewhere are exported to India precisely because as a direct result of colonization there are operators there who can mimic English speakers from those countries.

Further Reading:

H. Bhabha The Location of Culture (1994).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.


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