This is a beautiful depiction of the danger of a single story, while at the same time illuminating the power of an individuals’ story. In this Ted talk, novelist Chimamanda Adichie discusses the creation of a “single story” vis-à-vis literary, historical, popular, and media representations that are articulated, performed, reenacted, and reinforced through a process of cultural translation.
Like scholars F. Farahzad, T. Niranjana, G. Spivak, L, Venuti, and S. Faiq who have theorized the problematics of cultural “translations,” here Adichie explains that a “single story” is created through naivety, ethnocentrism, supremacy, hegemony, colonization, the white savior industrial complex, and above else, power. The result is a “single story” – a homogenized stereotype of difference that is uncritically cast upon an entire group of people.
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes,” said Adichie, “is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.”
Rather, people and cultures are multifaceted, and their ethical representation thus depends on the “balance” of stories – a conglomerate of individual stories understood according to the multifaceted identities performed within each story, as well as the profound complexity of their relationship to one another.
“Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also be used to repair that broken dignity.” Watch the whole video here: Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story | Video on TED.com.