all history is the history of migration


Tio kept offering the image of the insabbiati, those “caught in the sand”, as the perfect representation of this caste. He said we were creatures facing death with a much greater awareness of the frailty of life and thus with an enhanced compulsion to survive; creatures that could not – or did not get the chance to – live in their native matrix and, consequently, desperately sought to make a new life in unknown lands and under harsh conditions; creatures that often became fodder for the people in power in their new environments, thus providing the hosts with good nourishment.

Since then, the image of the insabbiati has served me both as a guide and as a metaphor. As a guide, it has helped me to struggle against the depression of the exilic condition, the harsh realities of exclusion, the longings for my native land, and the free-floating angst of feeling worthless because of the difficulties of integration and acceptance. As a metaphor, it has given me a perspective on history by recognising that displacement – or, to use the gentler word, migration – is not only a condition that rules much of the animal kingdom but also much of humanity, that, as the title of this paper brashly declares, all history is the history of migration.

more from Eurozine here.