In an era of instantaneous communication and mass movements of people, the location and claiming of “home”—as a political and spatial idea, as well as an affective one—is an increasingly abstract and intimate endeavor. While in many ways we imagine ourselves and our communities as Benedict Anderson once proposed, we are also bound to tangible, physical places that bear witness to or shape such imaginings. “Home” is often a negotiation of the imagined and the tangible, of the ideal and the pragmatic.
The complexities that underlie the concept of “home” form the foundation of this, the second issue of the The Postcolonialist. Many of the pieces in this volume engage the praxis of creating “home,” such as Celeste Liddle’s meditation on aboriginal feminist claimings in Intersectionality and Indigenous Feminism: An Aboriginal Woman’s Perspective, and Roland Alvarez’ discourses of LGBT spaces in Perú. Yet just as the world is seemingly most interconnected and in the process of vastly broadening the possibilities of “home,” we are also at our most atomized: As Indrani Mukherjee notes in Cartographies of Mass City-zenry, the rhythm of urbanity has at times displaced notions of national belonging, while Joy Hayward-Jansen’s Ibn Fadlan: Crossing Over and the Nature of the Boundary explores how movement, translation, and acculturation may be vitally constitutive of the self and of one’s vision of the world. The ruptures and avenues of movement are particularly salient in today’s context, as mass economic migration and refugee crises provoke a fluid vision of identity and (be)longing. With each (re)encounter we recast and redeploy established understandings of culture and society, as Annie Gibson analyzes in Rediscovering lo cubano through Capeira in Cuba.
Displacements, marginalizations, and exclusions have long produced a sense of placelessness and estrangement, even within one’s own landscape and national borders. These ideas are unpacked by pieces such as Saddik Gohar’s Mapping the Jew in Arab Literature, which explores the construction of the Jewish subject in contemporary Arab fiction, while Yue Yue investigates Tibetan literature and the complex place of Tibetan culture within China in Le sentiment des colons chonois au Tibet dans la littérature chinoise du Tibet, both of which problematize and vindicate the creation of narratives. Indeed, our conceptions of “home” are intrinsically tied to both how we see who and what we are, and how we stake a claim to our physical spaces. The value and mythology we attach to physical space is approached in Rael Jero Salley and Jared Thorne’s Vistas, a visual exploration of landscape and belonging in South Africa, as well as in Silvia Spitta’s Ivy League Foundational Narratives and Academic Disciplinary Hierarchies, which challenges the spaces and groundings behind both institutions and disciplinary anchorings.
Throughout this issue, our authors seek to engage and place in conversation ways of seeing and claiming space across contested localities and national imaginaries, challenging along the way the means by which we make, unmake, and re-imagine a (de)colonial “home.”