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Statelessness, Borders, and Belonging

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Ghina Al - Dajani

on 8 July 2013

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Transcript of Statelessness, Borders, and Belonging

He says: I am from there, I am from here,
but I am neither there nor here.
I have two names which meet and part...
I have two languages, but I have long forgotten
which is the language of my dreams.
I have an English language, for writing,
with yielding phrases,
and a language in which Heaven and
Jerusalem converse, with a silver cadence,
but it does not yield to my imagination.

What about identity? I asked.
He said: It is self-defence...
Identity is the child of birth, but
at the end, it is self-invention, and not
an inheritance of the past. I am multitudinous...
Within me an ever new exterior. And
I belong to the question of the victim. Were I not
from there, I would have trained my heart
to nurture there deers of metaphor...
So carry your homeland wherever you go, and be
a narcissist if need be/

The outside world is exile,
exile is the world inside.
And what are you between the two?
I do not define myself
so that I would not lose it. I am what I am.
I am my other, a duality
gaining resonance in between speech and gesture.
Were I to write poetry I would have said:
I am two in one,
like the wings of a swallow,
content with bringing good omen
when spring is late.

He loves a country and he leaves.
He loves leaving to things unknown.
By traveling freely across cultures
those in search of the human essence
may find space for all to convene...
Here a margin advances. Or a centre
retreats. Where East is not strictly east,
and West is not strictly west,
where identity is open onto plurality,
not a fort or a trench/

Metonymy was sleeping on the river's bank;
had it not been for the pollution
it would have embraced the other side.
Elegy for Edward Said
Home, Belonging, &
The Third Space, &
Rhizomatic Becoming
The In-Betweens &
Spaces of Alienation
Exile &
Narcissistic Nationalism
The Point of Departure
Works Cited
Home in Alienation
Paul Gilroy writes that diaspora “identifies a relational network, characteristically produced by forced dispersal and reluctant scattering. It is not just a movement though purposive, desperate movement is integral to it. Push factors like war, famine, enslavement, ethnic cleansing, conquest and political repression, are a dominant influence.” (318)
“the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted. … The achievements of exile are permanently undermined by the loss of something left behind forever.” (Said 137)
Barry Curtis and Clare Pajaczkowska argue that “if the tourist travels, for the most part, backwards in time, then the immigrant, the exile and the diasporic travel forward with no promise of a restored home,” rendering the condition of the refugee an “inversion of the tourist’s experience, on a journey in which the return to the ‘present’ of home, the lost equilibrium which brings closure, coherence, and the security of identification, is hopelessly deferred.” (Morley 227)
If traditional nationalism is understood in terms of discrete imagined communities in which collective identities are shaped, and where “nationalism’s specificity is that it is necessarily territorial, in so far as to be a national is to possess a territory—without which there can be no national existence,” (Morley 208) transnationalism can be understood to mean “belonging both to the community of the receiving country and the community in the country of origin.” (Madsen 68)

Morley writes that “[d]espite the fact that many people have links (of various sorts) which transcend the space of the nation, these do not often, as Hannerz puts it, ‘coalesce into any single conspicuous alternative to the nation.’” (205) As a result, the existence of both national and non-national collectives suggests a negotiation between various forms of collectives in defining and shaping identities, yet cannot definitively challenge the importance of national communities. As Hannerz continues to suggest, “if the ‘nation is not really withering away...it is changing’—but he rightly argues it is not…‘being replaced by any single transnational culture.’” (Morley 205)
They are, as Stuart Hall puts it “people who belong to more than one world, speak more than one language (literally and metaphorically), inhabit more than one identity, have more than one home, who have learned to negotiate and translate between cultures and who, because they are irrevocably the product of several interlocking histories and cultures, have learned to live with, and indeed to speak from, difference. They speak from the “inbetween” of different cultures, always unsettling the assumptions of one culture from the perspective of another, and thus finding ways of being the same as and at the same time different from, the others amongst whom they live. (Morley 207)
Iain Chambers’ concept of “rhizomatic becoming” and Homi Bhabha’s “third space” offer the post-modern alternatives to traditional nationalism, “where the familiar and the foreign are conjoined, where it is less clear where home concludes and the foreign begins—where we must dwell in home as itself a hybrid space of coeval times and lives.” (Morley 211) This blurring of boundaries is integral to the concepts of a mobile and hybrid identity, and thus the “third space” and “rhizomatic becoming” represent the conditions in which plurality of identities is developed and negotiated.
In his examination of borders and belonging, David Morley writes that “[i]t is at the boundary, where territorial control is, in fact, least secure that it is likely to be asserted all the more hysterically.” (221)

“the more strongly someone holds an image of Heimat [home] as something necessarily stable and unchanging, the more likely they are to be hostile to newcomers.” (220)
Palestinian identity subsists in a liminal space where it is prevented from moving forwards or backwards due to the constraints of displacement and disenfranchisement, yet where it has acquired a high measure of fluidity and plurality. Palestinian identity is rooted in the traditional concepts of nationalism and the essential image of Palestine, yet it also encompasses the various experiences of diaspora in ways that allow it to transcend the universality of an overarching national identity. This results in a cyclical process of identification that starts by valuing essential and traditional qualities, grows to include the plurality of experiences of the Palestinian communities, and reverts back to the idealized and romanticized desire for “home” in the unrelinquished desire for achieving a Right of Return.
Migration, Identity, & Belonging
Identity's boundaries
Transnationalism, Exile, and Diaspora
Spaces of Permeability
Statelessness and Alienation
Gilroy, Paul. “Diaspora and the Detours of Identity.” Identity and Difference. Ed. Kathryn Woodward. Sage Publications, 2002. pp. 299-346. Print.

Helmreich, Stefan. "Kinship, Nation, and Paul Gilroy's Concept of Diaspora." Diaspora 2.2 (1992): pp. 243. Print.

Madsen, Kenneth, and Ton van Naerssen. "Migration, Identity, and Belonging." Journal of Borderlands Studies 18.1 (Spring 2003): pp.61. Print.

Morley, David. Home Territories: media, mobility and identity. Routledge, 2000. pp. 204-245. Print.

Said, Edward W. "Reflections on Exile." Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. pp. 137-149. Print.
1. In a world where the nation-state is threatened by dissolution, how does an “alien space” affect power dynamics in society?

2. Are global flows of capital and migrants moving society towards a “borderless world,” and if so, is it possible for more “alien spaces” to emerge?
At home across the border
Territorial Identity
Carrying Home and Making Home
Where do border start and end?
The stateless Palestinian identity in the diaspora can be perceived to occupy an “alien space,” wherein plurality and hybridity can emerge, but only to be re-embedded in its historically specific and culturally essential universal ideals. Thus, the mobility and lack of a homeland for Palestinians become the ideological frameworks that determine their identities, placing them within spaces of legal constraint where they are recognized as “stateless” and are prevented from achieving any resolution over where it is exactly that they belong.
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