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Home and away : narratives of migration and estrangement.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Sara Ahmed
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/1999
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number3
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)329-347
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article examines the relationship between migration and identity by complicating our notion of what ‘home’ means, both for the narrative of ‘being at home’ and for the narrative of ‘leaving home’. It offers, not a migrant ontology, but a consideration of the historical determination of patterns of estrangement in which the living and yet mediated relation between being, home and world is partially reconfigured from the perspective of those who have left home. This reconfiguration does not take place through the heroic act of an individual (the migrant), but through the forming of communities that create multiple identifications through collective acts of remembering in the absence of a shared knowledge or a familiar terrain. The article interweaves a variety of different texts: short stories by Asian women in Britain, autobiographical reflection, theoretical constructions of migrancy and literature from two very different nomadic or migrant communities, the Global Nomads International and the Asian Women’s Writing Collective. The article provides a critique of recent theories of migrancy - and nomadism - as inherently transgressive, or as an ontological condition (where what we have in common is the loss of a home). The author argues that it is through an uncommon estrangement that the possibility of migrant communities comes to be lived. That is, it is the uncommon estrangement of migration that allows migrant subjects to remake what it is they might yet have in common.