An Interview with Homi Bhabha

Over at Eurozine:

Emrah Efe Çakmak: I would like to begin with the big picture, with the question posed to all contributors to this publication: “How much in common does a community need?”

Homi Bhabha: Well, first I think the question has to be reformulated. How much in common does a community need for what? The important thing is for what. If we are talking about a very diverse community, a community with great conflict within it, but whose members have a common love for sport, then during the Olympics or during football games on particular days or particular matches its members may well appear together despite their differences and despite their difficulties being together. At the same time the community that may represent a common front or a common faith in relation to sport may split terribly in relation to the distribution of particular kinds of resources, or indeed on the question of intercommunal or interfaith marriages. There is no general question of what a community needs in common. If you pose the question just generally, then you are tempted to revert to certain conventional or naturalistic ideas. Does everyone need to have been born in the same place, for instance? Does everybody need to have at least religious belief in common? Does a community need to be a proceduralist community, where, although it may have very different values, it at least believes in certain procedures so that it can interact and negotiate peacefully on a formal basis?

On the other hand, when the purpose of the community is, say, to produce a pluralist network of journals or other communicational media across Europe in which actors can speak to each other, can negotiate with each other, can have a lively exchange and a circulation of ideas and values, this would of course be very positive. I cannot see anyone saying this would not be a very positive move. But the question as to whether this could happen and what each institutional journal would have to have in common with the other institutional journals would really depend on what the specific issue that brought them together is. Is it about race or anti-racism? Is it about political democracy? Is the question of freedom the thing that these interventionist journals want to inspect? Do they want to make a critique of certain European Union policies on culture? Do they want to talk about the impact of globalization on regional cultures? It seems to me that on each of the things I have just mentioned there is the possibility that they might or might not come together.