Othering Each Other: Mimicry, Ambivalence and Abjection in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Shima Peimanfard, Fazel Asadi Amjad

Abstract


This study examines the intersections of Post colonialism and Psychoanalysis in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. It also aims to challenge Bhabha’s notions of mimicry and ambivalence as he deems them to be great forms of resistance against White supremacy. Indeed, The Bluest Eye considers Bhabha’s notion of mimicry as an oppressive strategy, especially when adopted by colonized characters like Pecola in their futile attempts to imbibe the imposed images of white culture. In addition to this literary inspiration, Julia Kristeva is among those Psychoanalytic critics who gives a further boost to my argument against Bhabha; remarking that mimicry creates the hazards of absorbing the norms of the dominant culture, and can result in psychological forms of oppression posed to the colonized, namely abjection. For instance, in Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the non-whites use mimicry as the sole arena of struggle to get out of the marsh of abjection and create a sense of self; failing to grasp that mimicry itself contains the threat of ridding them to abjection and the vicious circle of ‘othering each other.’ Therefore, Bhabha’s ambivalent experience, to which the colonized is promoted through manifesting feats of mimicry is indeed a trap; for the voice that comes out of such experience is psychotic.

Keywords


Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye, Mimicry, Ambivalence, Abjection, Self-abhorrence

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References


Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 1994. Print.

---. “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse.” The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994. Print.

---. “The Other Question: Difference, discrimination and the Other Discourse Discourse of Colonialism.” In Theory: Marginalization and contemporary Culture. Ed. Russell Fergusson, et al. New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990. Print.

Kristeva, Julia. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. New York: Columbia UP, 1980. Print.

---. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia UP, 1982. Print.

McLeod, John. Beginning Postcolonialism. England: Manchester University Press, 2000. Print.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume, 1994. Print.

Peimanfard, Shima and Asadi A. Fazel. ““Mimic (Wo)man” or “Abject Subject”? Crisscrossing Glances of Postcolonial and Psychoanalytic Theories in Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea.” ALLS 9.1 (2018):75-80. Print.

Simpson, Ritashona. Black Looks & Black Acts: The Language of Toni Morrison in The Bluest Eye and Beloved. NewYork: Peter Lang, 2007. Print.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.4p.115

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