Self and Circumstance: Journeys and Visions of Exile
THE DISPOSSESSED: AN ANATOMY OF EXILE, pp. 331-355, Peter I. Rose, ed., with a Foreword by Liv Ullman, University of Massachusetts Press, 2005
25 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2011 Last revised: 26 Jul 2012
Date Written: 2005
The self in exile, and the circumstances of exile, are as varied as human character and human history. Forced uprooting from one's homeland and community, coerced homelessness, may be the common crisis that confronts all exiles and refugees, but such groups that are affected by it perceive and react to their changed and changing circumstances in different ways. Exile is not a uniform journey, but many different journeys, and, “it,” cannot be grasped by a single vision, but many, reflecting the different vantages and framings of different selves, and indeed of the same self over time, in circumstances that never stay the same. The meaning of exile, and of home, varies, not least as a function of age and generation, of biography and history, of self and circumstance. These four short essays on a common theme, “Two Generational Perspectives on the Experience of Exile,” were written a quarter of a century apart by a father and son, a psychiatrist and a sociologist: the former spoke as a survivor of “four shocks," including, “exile shock,” a concept he coined to distinguish it from other phenomena; the latter spoke from the vantage of the “one-and-a-half” generation, the term he coined to distinguish between the first-generation adult protagonists (Literally, “first actors”) of the decision to go into exile, and the generation of their children, who as deuteragonists (“second actors”) tend to be free of the impulse for self-justification that drives their parents' exilic vision. Taken together, this collaboration consists of a selective set of reflections, spanning a quarter century of changing circumstances, of two selves, two journeys, two visions, two voices, two generational perspectives on the experience of exile.
Keywords: exile, coerced homelessness, exile shock, culture shock, one-and-a-half generation, generational perspectives, identity, Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study
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