International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2009)
Pages 258-263
ISBN: 978-0-08-044910-4
Article DOI: 10.1016/B978-008044910-4.00959-7

Divya P. Tolia-Kelly, Reader of Geography
Durham University

This article traces the term ‘hybridity’ to the eighteenth century in its origins as a defining principle of racial difference between ‘black’ and ‘white’ categories of man. Here, the focus is on the ways in which ‘difference’ has been defined between human beings through notions of purity and hybridity despite scientific evidence that exposes the inherent hybridity of man. Racial categories are discussed as culturally defined. In the nineteenth century, fears of racial miscegenation dominated thinking and governance across the globe. Miscegenation and fears for a loss of national and racial integrity has long shaped national cultures, histories, and policies across the globe. Despite ‘race’ having been challenged as a scientific category, its legacy continues to be important in modern social and cultural theory. ‘Hybridity’ in the twenty-first century is proposed by cultural theorists, as a means through which to understand postcolonial psyche and as a productive way to disrupt racial typologies. Another branch of antirace theory is cosmopolitanism which challenges categories of ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ and parochial accounts of cosmopolitan citizenship. The article ends with a proposal for ‘ecological thinking’ which asserts the need for responsible taxonomies and ultimately our epistemic responsibility as human geographers within social science research.

Article Outline

  • Introduction
  • The Roots of Hybridity
  • Human Categorizations of Man and Others
  • Psychoanalytical Theories of Cultural Hybridity
  • The Limitations of Cultural Hybridity
  • ‘Hybridity’ and Geography
    • Cultural Identity
    • National Identity
  • Hybridity, Time, and Nature
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Against Hybridity: For ‘Ecological’ Thinking
  • See also
  • Glossary
  • Further Reading

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