Pilgrim State and Motherland: From Migration to Homecoming

This is an essay from guest writer for Intersections, Jacqueline Walker, the author of Pilgrim State.

In 1959, as a five year old, I arrived in Southampton from Jamaica having experienced periods of separation from my mother. Like many Caribbean parents of the time, my mother had been working away, in her case in Canada, to save enough money to take her family to Britain. As children we were being united not just with our physical mother but with the country we had been taught to think of as the Mother Country. Many years later, when I began research into the construction of British Caribbean identity for a postgraduate thesis, it became clear that the confluence between Caribbean notions of mothers and Motherland with experiences of separation and reunion were not just part of my personal childhood history. The work of Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy, amongst others, has explored the response of Black British people to migration and colonialism. My intention here is to examine one strand of this thinking, with particular reference to a number of literary works, Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners and my own book Pilgrim State in order to better understand the ways that the experience of migration and settlement for people of Caribbean descent has changed over the last sixty years.

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The effects of enslavement on the relationship to ‘self’ has been commented on by writers such as CLR James and Franz Fanon. For more than two hundred years people of African descent had their bodies and minds enslaved through a number of violent and subtle stages that internalised oppression, making bearable what was, in reality, insufferable. However, people will always subvert oppression and Africans were not passive victims; they never have been, they rebelled, not just through acts of open revolt, such as those which occurred in Barbados or Haiti[1]. In every day life enslaved peoples subverted the power of the plantocracy, developing coded, highly mobile language systems, casting spells, corrupting food and saboutaging work schedules. However, one of the most effective and least known modes of resistance was the action taken by women in relation to their own reproduction. Control of fertility was, not surprisingly, a central arena for conflict; the issue being not simply how many children a woman would have, but when they would be born, who the father would be and the eventual fate of those children. Continue reading

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Border Thinking Blog

Have a look at Laura Agustin’s fascinating blog:

http://www.nodo50.org/Laura_Agustin/

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Iraqis in Egypt: Time is Running Out

The film ‘Iraqis in Egypt: Time is Running Out’ is now available to view on the Forced Migration Online website.

This documentary film looks at the lives of six Iraqi families who have been forced to flee their homes and are now living as refugees in the massive urban sprawl of Cairo. As the years pass by, their situations are becoming increasingly desperate, with little or no rights in their country of first asylum.

Iraqis in Egypt: Time is Running Out:
http://www.forcedmigration.org/video/iraqis-in-egypt/

More videos can be viewed at:
http://forcedmigration.org/video/

To learn more & to find out how you can help, visit:
http://www.iraqisinegypt.org/

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A Blog on Cultures of Migration in Italy

A friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Federica Mazzara, a fellow at the UCL Mellon Programme, has recently started a blog, entitled, Moving Boarders: The Aesthetics of Migraton. I had the opportunity to meet Federica this past December and in March, she organized a workshop on the Aesthetics of Migration at UCL which I had the chance to present a paper on the use of parody in photoshopped and YouTube clips by those who are 2nd generation Iranian in the diaspora.

I hope that you take the time to visit Federica’s blog as it has great commentary and links about Italy, migration and visual cultures.

Sanaz

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A Must Read on the Afro-Caribbean Diasporic Experience

Pilgrim State

Pilgrim State

My last post was about some of my favorite fiction and non-fiction about the migration/diasporic experiences. While I mentioned that most of my previous reading has an “Iranian” slant, I’ve just come across a great book written about a diaspora I know little about, but after reading Pilgrim State, I hope to learn more about.

Pilgrim State is about, author, Jacqueline Walker’s dynamic childhood and the lessons she and her siblings learned from their equally dynamic and strong-willed mother, Dorothy. I recently had the chance to meet and have a chat with Jacqueline and she alerted me to the fact that many books written about the migration and diasporic experience rarely are about mothers who bring their families over to begin a new life elsewhere. This is why I feel her book is a noteworthy addition to diasporic literature and to the Afro-Caribbean experience in Britain.

I’ve invited Jacqueline as a guest blogger for Intersections and am excited by the wealth of knowledge and genuine understanding she’ll be able to bring regarding the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.

Sanaz

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Online video contest: Intercultural dialogue

Are you between 15 and 30  ? Do you feel like you have things to say
about Intercultural Dialogue in Europe? Do you like expressing
yourself with video?

The European project Xenoclipse.net is inviting young video/filmmakers
to submit their short clip now. We are looking for the most original,
creative and/or nuanced portrayal of cultural diversity in your
country, city, town, school, street or family…

What intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity mean we want to
leave up to you! You will be the ones showing diversity from different
viewpoints.

Your clip can be a short film, video-art, documentary, musical clip,
news item… Up to 15 nominees will be contacted and invited to
Barcelona for the international Award Event on November 21st and 22nd,
2008 and the winners will receive a prize award.

For more information look at: http://www.xenoclipse-net.eu/

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The Battle of Plassey: Young People’s Project

The Battle that changed East End

Brick Lane Circle is delighted to announce that it has received a grant of £46,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to engage a group of young people (18-25) to explore East London’s historical links with Bengal through researching and writing about the area’s East India Company sites. 

The project idea emerged out of the series of events that Brick Lane Circle organized in  June 2007 to commemorate the 250 Years Anniversary of the Battle of Plassey (23 June 1757), when the British achieved victory in Bengal under Robert Clive.  It was also the beginning of the British Indian Empire, under the banner of the English East India Company.  The research findings will be put together in a publication, which will be launched during October 2008 Black History Month at a specially organized event at the Museum in Docklands.  An exhibition illustrating the work of the young people, historical paintings and photographs and important documents will accompany the publication.  The work of the young people will be made electronically available and an education pack will be developed.

The young people will undertake research on a number of East India Company sites in East London, an area dotted with important locations and buildings that have historical links with Bengal.  It is also the home of the largest concentration of Bangladeshi people in the UK.  The 250 Years anniversary events of the British conquest of Bengal (organized by Brick Lane Circle during June 2007) provided a focus for generating interest in learning about the shared heritage of East London.  The young researchers will be primarily recruited from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and given workshops, guided tours, mentoring support and assistance in writing their chapters.  These activities will help familiarise participants about important East India Company sites and their historical links with Bengal and provide guidance on the sources of information. Continue reading

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