When the hybrid met the therapeutic: Discursive orders in everyday life

Avi Shoshana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Analysis of the contemporary postcolonial discourse in Israel reveals the dominance of research reporting the hybridity and ambivalent life experiences that are characteristic of borderlands. However, suggesting that these studies rely mainly on distanced textual representations, this article proposes an inductive approach that adheres to the experimental strength of anthropology and describes how ethnic subjects experience their selfhood and react to the discourse of hybridity. This project is based on a case study of The Boarding School for the Gifted Disadvantaged in Israel, a school for individuals termed Orientals ('Mizrachim'), with the intention of re-educating them to integrate more fully into the Israeli national order. The main findings indicate that graduates of the boarding school use the therapeutic discourse when describing their selves, and reflexively reject the discourse of hybridity as put forward by postcolonial intellectuals in Israel. Based on these findings, I dwell on the (Spivakian) question as to can the subaltern speak hybridity. I offer four answers to this question, the main one of which stresses that in order to reach a complex understanding of a discourse we must clarify its relationships with the other discursive orders that are available to those subjects who employ it in their everyday lives (or what I call 'when the hybrid meets the therapeutic'). I thus argue that therapeutic discourse, with its institutional dominance in everyday life, makes it difficult to adopt the discourse of hybridity, which offers an alternative identity to individuals in everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-176
Number of pages24
JournalAnthropological Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

doi: 10.1177/1463499611407390


  • ethnicity
  • hybridity
  • postcolonial discourse
  • therapeutic discourse


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