Friday, October 1, 2021

We Are More Than Our Ethnicity, Race, Religion, Gender, and Nationality, Much More

" . . . to accept nativism is to accept the consequences of imperialism, the racial, religious, and political divisions imposed by imperialism itself. To leave the historical world for the metaphyiscs of essences like negritude, Irishness, Islam, or Catholicism is to abandon history for essentializations that have the power to turn human beings against one another; often this abandonment of the secular world has led to a sort of millenarianism if the movement has had a mass base, or it has degenerated into small-scale private craziness, or into an unthinking acceptance of stereotypes, myths, animosities, and traditions encouraged by imperialism. Such programs are hardly what great resistance movements had imagined as their goals.

 " . . . it is impossible to avoid the combative, assertive early stages in the nativist identity - they always occur: Yeats's early poetry is not only about Ireland but about Irishness - there is a good deal of promise in getting beyond them, not remaining trapped in the emotional self-indulgence of celebrating one's own identity (emphasis added). There is first of all the possibility of discovering a world not constructed out of warring essences. Second, there is the possibility of a universalism that is not limited or coercive, which believing that all people have one single identity is - that all the Irish are only Irish, Indians Indians, Africans Africans, and so on ad nauseam. Third, and most important, moving beyond nativism does not mean abandoning nationality, but it does mean thinking of local identity as not exhaustive, and therefore not being anxious to confine oneself to one's own sphere, with its ceremonies of belonging, its built-in chauvinism, and its limiting sense of security."

"In any case nativism is not the only alternative. There is the possibility of a more generous and pluralistic vision of the world, in which imperialism courses on, as it were, belatedly in different forms (the North-South polarity of our own time is one), and the relationship of domination continues, but the opportunities for liberation are open.  . . . In this phase liberation . . . is the new alternative, liberation which by its very nature involves, in Fanon's words, a transformation of social consciousness . . .. " 


--------Edward Said, Culture And Imperialism, pps. 228-230 

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