Indigenous Identity through Hybridity and Humor: A Postcolonial Reading of Robert Merritt’s The Cake Man

Parvaneh Ganjtalab Shad


The major thrust in this research has been in the area of postcolonial studies. As one their primary missions, post-colonial works of art relate stories as seen by the oppressed and the colonized. Beginning with Edward Said’s Orientalism, postcolonial figures as diverse as Franz Fanon, Gayatri Spivak, and Homi Bhabha emerged and each targeted an aspect of postcolonial conditions. The present article was undertaken to trace postcolonial elements of “colonial negotiations,” and “hybridity” in an Aboriginal play by Robert Merritt entitled The Cake Man. The central argument of this article is that in its anticolonial stance, this play discusses issues of Aboriginal race and identity. To realize this argument, the play is studies with the background of Edward Said and Homi K. Bhabha’s theories. While these two figures are the leading theoreticians of the research, Aboriginal anticolonial strategies, like Aboriginal humor and figurative emasculation, are also pointed out. In fact, the novelty of the study is in its amalgamation of Western theories and Aboiginal strategies. All through the play, history as seen by the oppressed becomes the focal point, making it eligible to be called postcolonial works. Merritt’s The Cake Man, which is a well-known example of forced conversion, contains a very prominent manifestation of Said and Bhabha’s colonial negotiations. In addition, by creating an anticolonial character in the play, Merritt highlights and criticizes colonial Christianity, colonial otherization, and figurative emasculation of Aboriginal men in Australian society. All these issues, as the play leads the audience to believe, contribute to the realization that colonial discourse has the policy of obliterating Aboriginal traditions.


Robert Merritt, Edward Said, Homi K. Bhabha, Colonial Negotiations, Hybridity, Humor, Figurative Emasculation

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