Lori Ann Garner
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With hope and humility
Hybridity as theoretical framework
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The concept of hybridity has long offered a powerful model for understanding many of the complex and dynamic processes that arise from cultural interactions, but what happens when we push this metaphor to its extremes? Hybrid cars, hybrid computers, and even hybrid literary genres are generally understood as positives, merging the best of two valued models through ‘hybrid vigor’. However, the model is also one that, if left unexamined, becomes fraught with the potential for reductive oversimplification implying the acceptance – or even glorification – of exploitation, appropriation, and subjugation of groups and traditions subsumed during the hybridization process. This chapter first situates the concept of hybridity within the historical and agricultural contexts of early medieval England, offering a close analysis of the Æcerbot land remedy, and then probes the biological basis of the metaphor for parallels that help us appreciate its generative potential as well as its limits. Healing practices open a space where suffering can be navigated and contested, and Old English remedies create healing networks across diverse religious and cultural belief systems. This chapter argues that the process parallels that of biological hybridity, where diverse entities are brought together and crossed in the hope of – but without the certainty of – positive outcomes. In this construct, sites of pain and adversity in effect become sites of hybridization – embodying all of the hope, risk, and power intrinsic to that process.

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Hybrid healing

Old English remedies and medical texts


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