How are displacement, loss and exile reconciled across the generations? - Sample Essay


Part of his explanation includes the idea that a person may want to ‘search for the self among the sites of memory’. He then goes on to point out that this is an example of the typical individualistic culture of the West, which is characterised by a ‘preoccupation with the self, knowing oneself, understanding oneself, improving oneself, discovering ‘the truth’ of oneself, testing oneself’, or in other words, a concern with reconciling the loss of their past.

I think one of the most interesting things brought up in the article, and which I can identify with, is that not only do the people who have migrated from Scotland feel draawn towards their homeland, but also their future relatives who have never been to Scotland themselves. Being quarter Greek Cypriot, but never having visited Cyprus, I experience an appeal to, and interest in Cyprus in much the same way that the Scottish people described in Basu’s (2001) article experience the need to go to Scotland.

However, I have never been part of anything considered ‘Greek’, I don’t speak the language and have never been inside an Orthodox Church, and as a result I feel the phrase ‘you can’t miss what you never had’ reflects my view on how I think about Cyprus – even though I would like to go at some point in my life, I don’t feel it is essential in order to me to understand my identity. Because of my personal experiences involving the idea of revisiting my ‘homeland’ country, I initially thought Basu’s article used exaggerated examples of people who felt drawn to Scotland far more than the average person of Scottish descent.

But having thought about the people I know whose family has been dislocated in the past, I realise that most people feel a far stronger connection to their ‘homeland’ than myself. Another method of reconciliation is creativity through cultural performances, music, song, poetry and dance. Thinking of commemorative creativity, particularly poetry, I am reminded of the poem ‘Island Man’ by Grace Nichols, who was born in Guyana but moved to Britain at the age of 27.

Many of her poems are characterised by her use of Guyanese rhythms and culture, but ‘Island Man’ in particular emphasises the differences between Guyana (in the first half of the poem) and London (in the second). She talks of how the ‘island’ man in the poem imagines being back in his ‘small emerald island’ and then ‘groggily’ comes back to the vision of London. Overall, the poem is about Nichols leaving a native land in search of a better life, but struggling with the sense of disconnection and trying to somehow reconcile her loss through writing about her past life in the Caribbean.

Basu (2001) talks about how some places in the ‘United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are ironically described as ‘more Scottish than Scotland” because Scottish cultural traditions including highland dance, language and music survived in some of these areas, whereas in Scottish Highlands, where these traditions first originated, they had died out for a period of time. An explanation of this could be that Scots residing in their homeland do not feel the need to maintain traditions in the same way as displaced Scots as they are surrounded by reminders of their heritage in Scotland.

Scots living outside Scotland, for example in Nova Scotia on the east Canadian coast, continued to practice the traditions to preserve their connection to the homeland, with which they could only otherwise connect to with ‘imagined’ memories and knowledge. One method of remembering the past that Paul Connerton doesn’t include is tracing family trees and general ancestry research. In an article about ancestry in Alltown, Jeanette Edwards (2009) points out that researching family history has become a ‘new national obsession’, made obvious by the amount of media concentrated on this area.

I believe this is largely down to the ease of finding out information on the past using the internet, better technology and communication. People are able to realise their past and define their own identity without having to visit the places their ancestors came from. This year, the Scottish government launched ‘Homecoming Scotland’ as a way to encourage people of Scottish descent back to Scotland to celebrate their heritage through a number of festivals and events in various towns and cities in Scotland, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews.

The project serves as a good example of how dislocation, loss, and particularly exile in the case of the Scots, are reconciled through the generations. Events held were effectively acts commemoration, such as the Son et Lumiere at the St Andrews cathedral, which showed a story of St Andrews’ past, focusing on the fishing trade which started around in 1400. The landscape of Scotland itself is considered a site of memory, the highlands, Arthurs Seat and Edinburgh Castle are a few examples, along with the various museums are libraries full of artefacts and documents pertaining to Scottish heritage.

A number of cultural performances including highland dances and bagpipes performances were organised throughout the homecoming project with the aim to reconnect and welcome people back with traditions they may not be aware of or have not seen. Te events were successful in encouraged re-visiting, and were successful in welcoming back a number of Scots from around the world as well as renewing the memories of those who never left. In conclusion, the methods of reconciliation used globally mainly seek to conserve memories of the past, both in actual objects and buildings etc.

, as well as physically going to their homeland, but also through less visible methods; stories, music and traditions. Although it may be most important for dislocated or exiled individuals to keep a sense of their rootedness in the homeland, remembrance of the past is also plays a significant role in individuals who have not moved and who aim to keep their identity intact despite changes within the society they live in.

Word count : 1791References Basu, P 2001 Huntin Down Home. In Contested Landscapes: Movement, Exile, Place. B Bender & M Winer (eds) Connerton, P. 1989. How Societies Remember.

Cambridge University Press; First Edition. Davie, L. L’Afrique opens at Museum Africa. Joburg,2009 Available electronically at http://www. joburg. org. za/content/view/3886/193/ Accessed 15/12/2009 Edwards, J. 1998. The need for a “bit of history”: Place and past in English identity. Pp147-167 in Locality and Belonging, ed. Nadia Lovell. London and New York: Routledge. 2009. “The Ancestor in the Machine” Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change. Available electronically at http://www. cresc. ac. uk/publications/documents/wp71. pdf Accessed on 16/12/2009 Gross, J. 2005.

The College of New Jersey “Islamic Shrine Culture and History in Tajikistan”. Available electronically at http://www. irex. org/programs/stg/research/05/gross. pdf Accessed 16/12/2009 Homecoming Scotland 2009 http://www. homecomingscotland2009. com/ Accessed on 16/12/2009 Nichols, G. (1992). When death comes. In New and selected poems (pp. 10-11). Boston: Beacon. Nova Scotia. (2009, December 15). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved December 16, 2009, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Nova_Scotia#Ethnic_origins Accessed on 16/12/2009 Turton, D. 2003. Refugees and ‘Other Forced Migrants’. RSC Working Paper no 18. Oxford.