The keynote speech by Homi K. Bhabha forms the prelude to the conference launching Re-Imagining Asia, which will be attended by many high-calibre figures.
The Harvard professor of English and American studies, who was born in Bombay in 1949, is one of the most important and influential theoreticians within post-colonial discourse and one of the main proponents of ‘cultural studies’. His main work, The Location of Culture, has made a vital contribution to post-colonial theory with its concept of ‘hybridity’. In an age of cultural migration and progressive globalisation, what identities are possible beyond colonial rule? Bhabha’s research raises questions about the conditions for cultural identity outside the categories of people, space, ethnic groups and language, and seeks to redefine these concepts. Bhabha’s activities have always extended beyond his academic work. His social commitment is apparent in the advisory functions he performs – as at the World Economic Forum in Davos and the UNESCO Committee on Culture in the Third Millennium, for example.