Sarah Smyth Introduction
Корни тоже … если начинать думать, откуда я и кто я – то на самом деле, корни неглубокие, так как я знаю своих бабушек и дедушек с обеих сторон, это – предел. [I was born in a country which is no more, and in a city which is no more – in the Soviet Union, in the city of Gorkiy. When I write USSR and Gorkiy in my passport application form, I feel, sort of, well, that I’m from nowhere. As for my roots … if I begin to think where I am from and who I am, I realize that my roots do not go deep. I knew my grandmothers and grandfathers on both sides. And that’s the limit.] — Life story, woman in her thirties, ‘Our Languages’ project, Dublin, 2011 I have always hated being asked who I am, where I am from or, as the Irish frame it, who my people are. These questions have always confounded me and resulted in anxiety: that I would deceive either my interlocutor or myself. One part of my brain understands that my interlocutor is making polite conversation and wants a single word answer: a singular point of origin, the name of a recognizable space or a gesturing to a people or a clan, or reference to a language which captures the spirit of a people. But the conventional categories of history, geography and language which nation states use to assign, or withhold, citizenship or other legal rights do not quite fit the bill. These categories anchor me in time and space, they make me a someone from somewhere. But a someone who does not always recognize themselves in that singular definition, and who is often...
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