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Understanding this also has implications for further thinking about the dynamics of the diasporic community. The quest for origins thus becomes premised on processes of exclusion marking territories of belonging while at the same time expelling alterity beyond the boundaries of the community. In this process of purification and construction of a homogeneous enclave, of policing the boundaries to the extent of committing various types of violence be it epistemic, social or political , that such a diasporic community forecloses any possibility of transnational cultural and political dialogue.

The effects of such irrational seizure are not gender-neutral in nature. I agree with Brah in that the return to the place of origin is utterly impossible even when the possibility to visit the geographical territory is within reach, but I part ways with her when it comes to the interpretation of why this is so. It is because of this unconscious dimension, I would argue, that return is impossible, and not because the origins become displaced and rooted in an imagined community.

For it is this loss, as I argued before, that cannot be recuperated and that acquires the dimension of the impossible return. Such situatedness leaves home, open to return. But the return is impossible — in both cases — precisely because of its affective unconscious dimension, and not because of its mythic aspect.


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This part will address the problematics of mediation processes, by and through language, looking precisely as the interval between the private and the public and how this is regulated by this very mediation. Questions such as: who is doing the mediation? Mediation cannot be referred to in the singular, as there are definitely different ways and means of instrumentalizing mediation.

In this part I will focus only on one such instrument: language — in relation to the concept of home.

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Looking at the role of mediation in reconsidering, reconstructing and representing 'home' means also looking at how subjectivities and the structural dynamics of the psychic life are being mediated in the formation of the diasporic identity politics, and how this identity politics is reconstructed as an effect of the mediation. In other words, the process of mediation is a continuous uneven detour, repetition, and return between the affect, social relations, psychic dynamics, culture, and politics.

If we follow Lacanian psychoanalytic thought, with its claim that any society is regulated by a series of interrelated signs, roles and rituals — termed the Symbolic Order — marking the formative moment of the entrance into language, before meanings are rationally assimilated, it means that the Symbolic Order, inscribed into the unconscious, regulates society through the regulation of individuals. In language, argues Lacan, we are permanently cut off from the Real — that is, the excess, the inaccessible meanings which spill over from the fixed meanings of words.

On these arguments, the primal home becomes the inexpressible, that which is beyond the reach of signification and which lies out of the reach of the Symbolic Order. It means that to refer to feelings of being at home, to its signification, the chain of signifiers only has meanings as a result of the absence or loss of that to which they refer.

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That is to say that the social construction of the meanings of home can only be accessed through the means of its construction. For what this stereotyped construction invokes is not simply an individual belonging to a nation or to a stigmatized collective per se, but it implies rather an intricate interplay of one into the other. That is to say that the individual belonging — played out through the collective — becomes the collective which manifests itself through the individual.

It is worth pausing here to reconsider a bit more, not only how the idiom of home has been instrumentalized to denigrate and draw external boundaries of belonging, but also how its effects affect, displace and reposition the individual into the collective, how the collective is played out through the individual and what the effects for wider social relations might be.

The feelings of hurt and intense vulnerability that the desire for home, for belonging, triggers in us, may be better understood if we turn again to psychoanalytic discourse. I argued before, along with Kristeva, that the formation of identity is secured through means of expulsion and that this identity formation is premised on the abjection of the mother, who can be metaphorically thought of as a space of belonging, home, and by extrapolation, nation.

And because these processes of abjection, expulsion, incorporation, and internalization take place before meanings are rationally assimilated, it means that these idioms of belonging are inextricably imbricated into the fabrics of affect and thus constantly undermined by a kernel of unconscious incomprehensibility. Fourthly , stereotyping might also become a preliminary locus of reactive and creative resistance for the diasporic community.

I think of resistance, in the Foucauldian vein, as a complex category intersecting psychic as well as political meanings, instruments and effects Foucault, History It means that stereotyping, while constructing boundaries, in the same motion, also assigns meanings to them. At the same time, it makes the community draw its own imaginary boundaries, either as a means of protection or as an effect of the internalization of these boundary meanings. That is to say that the constructed boundaries, as a result of the double move, both from the exterior and from the interior, play a crucial role in the process of assigning meanings to the community in the everyday of social relations.

Is it possible, asks Brah, to feel at home in a place, and yet, to be inhibited by the experience of social exclusions to claim that place as home? Brah argues that such a possibility is merely contingent on the positionality of the subject within differing political practices.

Consider the two cases:. What I would like to underscore here is that this situatedness, or border positionality, is inextricably dependent not only on relations of power and politics, but also necessarily on the interpretation of the constructed meanings of the border politics. It is also important to mention here, with Brah, that there are simultaneous situatednesses within the politics of location in the interstices of gender, class, racism, ethnicity, sexuality, age, generation, and so on. Each position shifts the locality of the border, as each position carries within it traces of other positionalities be them in relation to wider social relations or in relation to its own community.

How one becomes situated is then dependent on how one reassigns meanings to the already constructed meanings of stereotyping at the confluence of other previous interpretational and conceptual grids i. How and to what effect does one interpret these multilayered conflicting meanings and how could this interpretation effects an agential position potent with capacity for social change? Yet, once again, this situatedness is always fluid, shifting, depending on the context of other intersectionalities.

So how and why is a border regulated and policed? She looks for answers, in the same way that Spivak does, at the contingency of labour formation and immigration regulation, arguing that. This border speaks the fate of the formerly colonized people presently caught up in the workings of a global economy dominated by transnational capital and mediated by politics of 'G-Sevenism' or 'G-Eightism. As we can see, in border positionality, discursive processes are mutually dependent on processes of globalization and labour movement control.

And stereotyping is an integral part of the discursive materiality of power relations, as they can serve as powerful instruments of the effects of socio-economic and political borders. She claims that. But neither is the locus of resistance. That is to say that creative resistance needs to be re-conceptualized to include its own helplessness and vulnerability, its own disposition to aggression, and also the awareness of what resists in the name of resistance.

That is to say that not only is there a risk to stereotype the dominant Other in the very motion of resisting them, but also of internalizing the stereotypes unknowingly, and hence unconsciously re-circulating them. The border between stereotyping and being stereotyped, between assigning meanings and being re assigned positions is not only permeable but it is essentially constructed.

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Not all diasporic communities face the same problematics and so I am also aware of the crucial importance of contextualizing such categories in order to avoid the risk of doing epistemic violence to them. I also suggest that it knows nothing of space, as these two terms are, in my opinion, inseparable. The repetitive raping ending in pregnancy and sexual violence are the most perverse and powerful instruments to defile this space and hence destroy it.

In this case, the body of woman becomes the body of nation -mother , the site where the ethnic, cultural, and political conflicts are being played out. A common distinction is between primary and secondary narcissism, the former referring to the initial object-less absorption of the infant in itself, and the latter to the installing of lost love objects in the ego Freud, On Narcissism Surely, these dynamics exist in degrees and might remain latent most of the time.

What I would like to underline is their existence and the effects that this might generate. Concept and notion define two different levels in this case: concept refers rather to the mental representations of the object home while notion makes reference to the discursive representations of the object.

These are indeed generalizations, but my point here is that such an enforcement might be present, at one time or another, in any diasporic community obsessed with the quest for its origins. It is her subject leaking into place that needs to be, in my opinion, carefully reconsidered, drawing attention to the intersectionalities that mark her: gender, class, race, ethnicity, generation, age.

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the scent of memory: strangers, our own and others

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