Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Signs taken for wonders: an anecdote taken from history

Bell, Bill ORCID: 2012. Signs taken for wonders: an anecdote taken from history. New Literary History 43 (2) , pp. 309-329. 10.1353/nlh.2012.0015

Full text not available from this repository.


Since its first appearance as an article in Critical Inquiry in 1985, Homi Bhabha’s “Signs Taken for Wonders: Questions of Ambivalence and Authority Under a Tree Outside Delhi, May 1817” has become a locus classicus for postcolonial studies.1 A central document in today’s postcolonial archive, it was republished as a chapter in The Location of Culture in 1994, in numerous subsequent editions, and is a text that has been recycled and repeated in several languages and in countless anthologies and secondary works. It constitutes a discourse whose key coinages—“hybridity,” “sly civility,” “mimicry”—have passed into such common usage in the past twenty-five years that they have come to colonize the postcolonial imagination with an imaginative power rare within the rarefied world of cultural theory. It is not my aim to rehearse here the impressive and energetic performance of a European critique that informs Bhabha’s argument as it moves—deft and dutiful—through the luminary ecumene of Freud, Foucault, Lacan, and Derrida, nor the subtle way in which it comes to concepts that now pass for truisms. Instead I want to show that this essay, and in particular its use of anecdotal history, is more fraught than Bhabha’s swallow flights allow.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
ISSN: 1080-661X
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2023 15:15

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item