Friday, May 25th, 2012...12:50 am

33. Mimicking Pachuco Identity

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In Durán’s “Nation and Translation:The Pachuco in Mexican Popular Culture: German Valdez’s Tin Tan,” Durán uses the idea of “mimcry” to explain how the pachuco culture “gives him a location in (and out of) culture.” Homi Bhabha’s theory on mimcry gives insight on how the pachuco culture uses mimicry:

“Which is to say, that the discourse of mimicry is constructed around an ambivalence; in order to be effective, mimicry must continually produce its slippage, its excess, its difference […] Mimicry is, thus, the sign of a double articulation; a complex strategy of reform, regulation, and discipline, which “appropriates” the Other as it visualizes power. Mimicry is also the sign of the inappropriate, however, a difference or recalcitrance which coheres the dominant strategic function of colonial power, intensifies surveillance, and poses an immanent threat to both “normalized” knowledges and disciplinary powers…”  (Bhabha 126)

Bhabha stresses the notion that mimicry is centered, or “constructed,” around “ambivalence.” Ironically, according to Bhabha,in order for mimicry to be “effective,” it “must continually produce its slippage, its excess, its difference.” In other words, in order for mimicking to be effective, it must be excessive and different than the subject of mimicry.  The use of words “strategy, ” reform, regulation, and discipline” imply mimicry as some sort of means to a desired end as well as a certain change or “reform.” The use of the words “double articulation” relate to the pachuco culture in that pachuco culture articulates duplicity within itself: projecting both Mexican and American identities. The word “Other” implies a sense of some “I” versus some “them.” In other words,  it separate “us” from “Others” based on who mimics who. However, the capitalization of the word “other” implies that the greater power and strength comes from the “Other” rather than the “us.” Ironically, the word “appropiates” implies a sense that the mimicry works to gain some control over the “Other” as well as gain “power.” Bhabha uses words such as “recalcitrance,” “coheres,” “threat,” “‘normalized’ knowledges” and “disciplinary powers” to imply a sense of threat of revolution or reform against the “Others” who have power over the “normalized.” Through mimicry,  the pachuco’s pose a threat to these powers of the “Others” and those who hold “disciplinary powers.” Bhabha implies that the ambiguity, the excesssiveness, the difference of this pachuco culture undercuts o the “norm,” and, therefore, poses a threat. We see this mimicry in not only plays and performances such as Zoot Suit, but we also see it in pachuco identity itself.


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