Publications and Research

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2019

Abstract

This article explores the personal narratives of two displaced travelers, Pico Iyer and Sir Alfred Mehran. Their memoirs, The Global Soul (2000) and The Terminal Man (2004), provide evidence that anxieties associated with global mobility are heightened due to a loss of community anchors and social orientation points. My reconceptualization of homesickness provides a powerful expression for these losses and uncertainties. In particular, the collision between past memories and present identity tests, especially as these tests occur in global airports, can produce global homesickness or a more destabilizing feeling: radical homesickness. Iyer’s class, national affiliation, and passport allow him to travel freely and to write about his displacement from a theoretical and philosophical position. Mehran, however, is unable to move freely. He is barred from establishing a home; he suffers the burden of detachment and the penalty of being without official papers. Mehran attempts to build a sense of home in an unlikely place: the Charles du Gaulle airport. And the strain of such homebuilding provides evidence of longing and loss that goes beyond classic forms of homesickness. Scholars of globalization and personal narratives can benefit from a more rigorous understanding of how homesickness--a feeling that is fundamental to identity reconfiguration--enables and disables people from remaking and rewriting home.

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