Sociologists have tended to construct theories of identity based on unitary notions of social location which avoid conceptualizing disjunction and contradiction and which therefore fail to capture certain characteristics of the postcolonial condition. This paper engages in a postcolonial re-reading of sociological theories of practice (in particular, Pierre Bourdieu's notion of habitus). It does so through an analysis of the historical development of the field of health and healing in South Africa. From the beginning of the colonial enterprise, biomedicine resisted amalgamation with other forms of healing and insisted on a monotherapeutic ideology and practice whereas indigenous healing accommodated not only biomedicine, but invited pluralism within and across cultural and ethnic differences. As such, a bifurcated and parallel system of healing emerged, whereby Black South Africans practiced pluralism and white South Africans utilized biomedicine in isolation. This disjuncture became acrimonious in the post-apartheid era as the state attempted to forge a united health system and battle the AIDS epidemic. Despite the historical and contemporary bifurcations within the field of health and healing, people living with AIDS continue to subscribe to a hybrid health ideology. There is, therefore, a structural disjuncture between the realities of consumption within the field of health and healing and the logic of the field as it is articulated in the symbolic struggle raging in the field of power. The field of health and healing is characterized, therefore, by a simultaneous bifurcation and hybridity – which is reflected in HIV-infected South Africans’ beliefs and practices. In order to make sense of this puzzling disjuncture and its impact on subjects’ trajectories of action, this paper draws insight from Pierre Bourdieu's theory of habitus and Homi Bhabha's conceptualization of hybridity – transforming each of them through their synthesis and application to the postcolonial context.
Laurier Decoteau, C. (2013), "Hybrid Habitus: Toward a Post-Colonial Theory of Practice", Go, J. (Ed.) Postcolonial Sociology (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 263-293. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0198-8719(2013)0000024016Download as .RIS
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