Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This or That


Me in Mexico last week

Always one to torture myself with abstract thoughts, I spent part of my winter vacation thinking about expats vs. migrant workers vs. immigrants. After a few weird experiences with expats, I am wondering what an expat actually is and whether I really want to/should/can identify myself as one and even if I do identify whether I should gravitate towards that community. There are a lot of other immigrants/migrant workers I've seen around my town and also in Ljubljana who have probably never been to a single expat event. While the migrant workers I've seen here seem to come from many different backgrounds and work different types of jobs here, I think there are a lot of people who may be automatically excluded from these expats groups and their activities by the mere fact that either they don't speak English or don't have web access or lack funds or (like me) don't have adequate transportation. Where do they hang out? Where/ what is their social support network? As I am trying to build my own social network I am curious to think about this.

I'm not sure where this is going, but I am probably going to be rambling about this off and on for the next weeks, just musing and throwing out information. I've grown up used to feeling marginalized, and it was a weird (but not surprising) experience to get marginalized by Americans outside of America, however it is a good reminder that I usually have more fun and learn more by lingering at the margins anyways. So that's what I'm gonna try and focus on for a while. ...well, that and ten million other things.

6 comments:

Tina. said...

Oh, yes, there's definitely more fun etc. to be had in the margins! :)

These are some pretty serious issues to ponder. Good luck in figuring things out.

the diva said...

i would love to read your analysis. we definitely have that sort of distinction in Japan re. income. and big split between 'western' foreigners and 'non-western' foreigners.

pirano said...

I've thought about this too in the past, and reached an entirely unscientific conclusion that the term 'expat' doesn't mean a whole lot anymore in a contemporary post-modern sense. Certainly not to me. :) Increased mobility, people flying about the continent for work, borders falling etc. Where am I going with this? I have no idea either...

Camille Remarkable said...

@tina - Thanks!

@the diva - Yeah I think I've just been annoyed by the division between white American expats and "others". this display of entitlement even outside "their territory" never ceases to amaze and anger me. in the slow process of creating a life for myself here, i am exceedingly thankful for the few good expats and all the great locals i've met here.

@pirano - you have a bit of a point there, when i used to think expat, i always thought of all my heroes who became heroes in the 20s, 30s, and 40s (people like Josephine Baker) who left home to join these great creative and openminded communities in Europe. i think the whole thing got co-opted by a bunch of corporate suits in the foreign office who dont really want to live here and are trying to approximate home, as much as possible, during their tenure here.

as for your point about increased mobility and borders falling, i really think that that only really benefits a select few (lucky) people.

pirano said...

That's true, but even our heroes -- Hemingway, Stein, Baker, Hughes, Wright, Baldwin et al -- whom I associate with the romaticised view of 'expat' were certainly among those lucky few who had the means to pick up and go.

Camille Remarkable said...

@pirano - you definitely got me on that!