Flux: Between Homelands

Page 1




Statistics from the UN Refugee Agency

Flux: Between Homelands


Flux: Between Homelands A Book About Human Gyre by Katya Romanova

2018 Katya Romanova Printed in Canada Photography: Andres Kind Amos Chapple Gregorio Acuna Katya Romanova Google Earth

“Being strangers in our own land is a sad story, but if we can speak, we may turn this story around.�

- Rita Joe

For my mother, who’s strength carried us across the ocean, For my brother and father who made it possible. And for you, my here and now.


Amos Chapple

St Petersburg, Russia


Definitions 18-23


Statistics + Data 46- 63


Data and statistics on immigration trends, and refugee state globally.

Introduction 14-15

3 4

History 24 -45

Immigration, diaspora, post-colonialism.



Personal Narratives


My Story


Interview with Paulina Duska


Conclusion 86



This document is an exploration on the modern identity crisis, and it’s implications. Specifically, I have researched and studied the concept of ‘the homeland’ and the way that issues such as immigration, politics and history shape it. Through a collection of research and stories of diasporic themes I studied the relationship between the individual and society, and how this relationship affects assimilation and adaption of both individuals and groups. Utilizing psychological research, participatory design, data analysis, and a collection of writing I aim to provide you with an insight into these issues. In addition, I have researched the relationship which exists between culture and identity and its implications on individuals living in fragmented cultures. This includes differences between location and presence. This specific realm of research highlights the effects of acculturation on individuals, families and society. It also describes North America’s diverse population and address the psychological experience of the immigrant with specific attention given to factors that aid or impede adjustment.

Here & Now

Displacement and assimilation are not about immigration. They are not about moving around the globe, or learning new customs. They are about finding peace in our here and now.

The past thirteen years I have spent questioning, wondering, and asking myself where the strain of my differences stems from. After everything we have faced as a people, through analysis of pull and push factors, through mediation of the concept of homeland, family, memory, time, and place, I have aimed to formulate my manifesto of belonging in visual and verbal form. Here it is.

2. Definitions 16


Google Earth

Atahualpa, Bolivia

diaspora [dahy-as-per-uh, dee-] noun 1. (usually initial capital letter) the scattering of the Jews to countries outside of Palestine after the Babylonian captivity.

2. (often initial capital letter) the body of Jews living in countries outside Israel.

3. any group migration or flight from a country or region. Synonyms: dispersion, dissemination, migration, displacement, scattering. Antonyms: return.

4. any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, as Africans during the transAtlantic slave trade.

nostalgia [no-stal-juh, -jee-uh, nuh-] noun 1. a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time: a nostalgia for his college days.

2. something that elicits or displays nostalgia.


Nostalgia is defined as a sentimentality for the past. This is usually associated with a time, or place with which one has associations. The word nostalgia is a formation of a Greek compound of νόστος (nóstos), meaning "homecoming", a Homericword, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning "pain" or "ache", and was coined by a 17th century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. Described as a medical condition - a form of melancholy - in the Early Modern period, it became an important trope in Romanticism. 19



Gregorio Acuna

2017 Venezuela Riots

immigration [im-i-grey-shuh n] noun 1. the act of immigrating. 2. a group or number of immigrants

emigration [mahy-grey-shuh n] noun 1. the process of leaving one country from another to take up permanenet or semipermanent residence.

net migration The net effect of immigration and emigration on an area’s population in a given time period, expressed as an increase or decrease.

push-pull factors A migration theory that suggests that circumstances at the place of origin (such as poverty and unemployment) repel or push people out of place to other places that exert a positive attraction or pull (such as a high standard of living or job opportunities).


refugee [ref-yoo-jee, ref-yoo-jee] noun 1. a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc.

2. political refugee.

forced displacement The concept of forced displacement envelopes demographic movements like migration, evacuation, displacement, and resettlement. The International Organization for Migration defines a forced migrant as any person who migrates to “escape persecution, conflict, repression, natural and human-made disasters, ecological degradation, or other situations that endanger their lives, freedom or livelihood�.

65.6 million

displaced persons in 2017

17.187 million refugees 36.627 million IDP’s 2.826 million asylum seekers 803 thousand people in regufee-like situation


3. History


Katya Romanova

St Isaac Cathedral

International Migration human population In absolute numbers, international migration is at a

greater factor in growth between 1900 and 1950, when

peak. About 145 million people lived outside their native

20 million people entered the country. Natural increase

countries in the mid-1990s, and that number increased

added an average of 1 percent of the population increase

to roughly 175 million in 2005. Currently, the largest

per year during that period. At that rate the population

immigration flows are from Latin America and Asia into

would have doubled in about 70 years, but it took only 50

North America, and from Eastern Europe, the countries of

years to double. Migration stepped up the doubling by 20.

the former Soviet Union, and North Africa into Northern and Western Europe. The Middle East draws migrants from Africa and Asia and hosts millions of refugees from within the region. There is considerable migration within Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

why people move

The volume of legal migration has fluctuated since the 1930s. Immigration has accounted for an increasing portion of population growth as North American women began having fewer children. If current patterns continue, the population of the United States could rise to 438 million in 2050, from 300 million in 2006. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, 82 percent of

Most people move for economic reasons, but some

U.S. population growth between 2005 and 2050 will be

migrate to escape political or religious persecution or

due to new immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants.

simply to fulfill a personal dream. Some experts divide the many reasons people leave their homes for a new one into push and pull factors. Push factors might be widespread unemployment, lack of farmland, famine, or war at home.

Of the three components of population change, migration is the most difficult component to predict and is most affected by government policies. Because nations can control their borders, they may regulate the flow of legal

Factors that attract migrants are called pull factors. These

immigrants. The oil-producing countries in the Middle East

include a booming economy, preffered immigration laws,

offered financial incentives to attract immigrants, just as

and more.

the United States and Australia once offered free land. In 1990, Japan permitted employment rights and residence

The majority of migrants to United States and Canada

for ethnic Japanese from Latin America. The United

in the past 200 years were European. During the first

States’ immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached

decade of this century nearly 9 million immigrants entered

an estimated 37.9 million in 2007. An estimated 12 million

this country, and more than 90 percent were from Europe.

were unauthorized.

By mid-century, just half of the migrants were from Europe. The total number of immigrants fell to around 1 million in the 1940s. In the 1980s the number of migrants increased to levels similar to those at the turn of the century. But 84 percent of these migrants were from Latin America and Asia, and just 10 percent were from Europe. The volume of legal immigration and the prevalence of migrants from Asia and Latin America will continue in the new century. The origins of immigrants change over time, as do their numbers and the effect that they have on U.S. population growth. According to one estimate, about 42 percent of the U.S. population in 1900 resulted from immigration during the preceding century. Immigration was an even 1 26




Google Earth

Ecatepec, Mexico

Human Flux migration Human migration is the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling, permanently or temporarily in a new location. The movement is often over long distances and from one country to another, but internal migration is also possible; indeed, this is the dominant form globally. People may migrate as individuals, in family units or in large groups A person who moves from their home to another place because of natural disaster or civil disturbance may be described as a refugee or, especially within the same country, a displaced person. A person seeking refuge from political, religious or other forms of persecution is usually described as an asylum seeker. Nomadic movements are normally not regarded as migrations as there is no intention to settle in the new place and because the movement is generally seasonal. Only a few nomadic people have retained this form of lifestyle in modern times. Also, the temporary movement of people for the purpose of travel, tourism, pilgrimages, or the commute is not regarded as migration, in the absence of an intention to live and settle in the visited places..

Top ten destination counties: United States Russian Federation Germany Saudi Arabia Canada the UK France Australia India

Top ten countries of origin: Mexico Spain China Ukraine Bangladesh Pakistan UK Philippines Turkey

4 28



Google Earth

Thornich, Alemania

Diaspora history A diaspora (from Greek, “scattering, dispersion�) is a scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale. Diaspora can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland. Diaspora has come to refer particularly to historical mass dispersions of an involuntary nature, such as the expulsion of Jews from Judea and the fleeing of Greeks after the fall of Constantinople. Other examples are the African Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the southern Chinese or Indians during the coolie trade, the Irish during and after the Irish Famine, the Palestinian diaspora, and the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries in the 20th century, the exile and deportation of Circassians, and the emigration of Anglo-Saxon warriors and their families after the Norman Conquest of England, many of whom found employment in Constantinople and bolstered the elite bodyguard of the emperor, the Varangian Guard.

Dispersion of the African Diasporas

Canada Germany France United States


Spai n

Cuba l a

Colombia Ecuado r Peru

Nigeri a


Argentin a

Millions 2,000,000





6 30

african diasporas

european diasporas

Population of 140 million. The African diaspora refers to

European history contains numerous diaspora-like events.

the communities throughout the world that have resulted

In ancient times, the trading and colonising activities of

by descent from the movement in historic times of peoples

the Greek tribes from the Balkans and Asia Minor spread

from Africa, predominantly to the Americas and among

people of Greek culture, religion and language around the

other areas around the globe. One of the largest diaspora

Mediterranean and Black Sea basins, establishing Greek

of modern times is that of Sub-Saharan Africans, which

city-states in Magna Graecia (Sicily), northern Libya,

dates back several centuries. During the Atlantic slave

eastern Spain, the south of France, and the Black Sea

trade, 9.4 to 12 million people from West Africa survived

coasts. Greeks founded more than 400 colonies. Tyre and

transportation to arrive in the Americas as slaves. This

Carthage also colonised the Mediterranean. Alexander

population and their descendants were major influences

the Great’s conquest of the Achaemenid Empire marked

on the culture of British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish

the beginning of the Hellenistic period, characterized by

New World colonies. Prior to the trans-Atlantic slave trade,

a new wave of Greek colonization in Asia and Africa, with

millions of Africans had moved and settled as merchants,

Greek ruling-classes established in Egypt, southwest Asia

seamen and slaves in different parts of Europe and Asia.

and northwest India. Subsequent waves of colonization

From the 8th to 19th centuries, an Arab-controlled slave

and migration during the Middle Ages added to the older

trade dispersed millions of Africans to Asia and the islands

settlements, or created new ones, thus replenishing

of the Indian Ocean. Diaspora offers pathways that retrace laverings of

the Greek diaspora and making it one of the most longstanding and widespread in the world.

difference in the aftermath of colonialism and slavery,

The Migration-Period relocations, which included several

as well as the effects of other forms of migration and

phases, are just one of many in history. The first phase

displacement. Thus, diaspora enables the desedimentation

Migration-Period displacement (between CE 300 and

of the nation from the ‘interior’ by taking into account the

500) included relocation of the Goths (Ostrogoths

groups that fail to comply with the reigning definition of

and Visigoths), Vandals, Franks, various other Germanic

the people as a cohesive political subject due to sharing

peoples (Burgundians, Lombards, Angles, Saxons, Jutes,

one culture, one race, one language, one religion, and

Suebi, Alemanni, Varangians and Normans), Alans and

so on, and from the ‘exterior’ by “drawing attention to

numerous Slavic tribes. The second phase, between CE

the movements that cannot be contained by the nation’s

500 and 900, saw Slavic, Turkic, and other tribes resettling

administrative and ideological borders”. - Alexander

in Eastern Europe and gradually leaving it predominantly

Weheliye, Black Europe and the African Diaspora

Slavic, and affecting Anatolia and the Caucasus as the

Currently, migrant Africans can only enter 13 African countries without advanced visas. In pursuing a unified future, the African Union (AU) will allow people to move freely between the 54 countries of the AU under a visa free passport and encourage migrants to return to Africa.

first Turkic tribes (Avars, Huns, Khazars, Pechenegs), as well as Bulgars, and possibly Magyars arrived. The last phase of the migrations saw the coming of the Hungarian Magyars. The Viking expansion out of Scandinavia into southern and eastern Europe, Iceland and Greenland.The recent application of the word “diaspora” to the Viking lexicon highlights their cultural profile distinct from their predatory reputation in the regions they settled, especially in the North Atlantic. Such colonizing migrations cannot be considered indefinitely as diasporas; over very long periods, eventually the migrants assimilate into the settled area so completely that it becomes their new mental homeland.




10 31

asian diasporas

the hmong people

The earliest known Asian diaspora is the Jewish diaspora,

Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed

the majority of which can be attributed to the Roman

and produced by Clint Eastwood about the many Lao

conquest, expulsion, and enslavement of the Jewish

Hmong war refugees resettled in the U.S. following the

population of Judea, and whose descendants became the

communist takeover of Laos in 1975. The story follows

Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Mizrahim of today.

a recently widowed Korean War veteran alienated from

Chinese emigration first occurred thousands of years ago. The mass emigration that occurred from the 19th century to 1949 was caused mainly by wars and starvation in mainland China, as well as political corruption. Most immigrants were illiterate or poorly educated peasants and coolies “hard labor”, who immigrated to developing

his family and angry at the world. Walt’s young neighbor, Thao Vang Lor, is pressured by his cousin into stealing Walt’s prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino for his initiation into a gang. Walt thwarts the theft with his M1 Garand rifle and subsequently develops a relationship with the boy and his family.

countries in need of labor, such as the Americas, Australia,

The Hmong people fought with the U.S. in the Vietnam

South Africa, Southeast Asia, Malaya and other places.

War, so when the war was over, Laos considered them

The largest Asian diaspora outside of Southeast Asia is

traitors. The U.S. offered them citizenship and protection.

the Indian diaspora. The overseas Indian community, estimated at over 25 million, is spread across many regions in the world, on every continent. It constitutes a diverse, heterogeneous and eclectic global community representing different regions, languages, cultures, and faiths.

For two years (1994 to 1996) Mr. Vincent lived in and around Saint Paul, Minnesota as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He learned how to speak Hmong, taught people about God, served in the hospital, and also did a lot of translating for the older generation.

Mr Vincent and the Hmong family, uknown source. 11 32



Little Hmong Girl


Unknown Source

War World II,

war world II As World War II unfolded, Nazi Germany deported and

From the late 19th century, and formally from 1910, Japan

killed millions including Jews, Ukrainians, Russians

made Korea a colony. Millions of Chinese fled to western

and other Slavs. Some Jews fled from persecution to

provinces not occupied by Japan (that is, in particular

unoccupied parts of western Europe and the Americas

Ssuchuan/Szechwan and Yunnan in the Southwest and

before borders closed. Later, other eastern European

Shensi and Kansu in the Northwest) and to Southeast

refugees moved west, away from Soviet annexation, and

Asia. More than 100,000 Koreans moved across the Amur

the Iron Curtain regimes after World War II. Hundreds

River into Eastern Russia (formerly Soviet Union) away

of thousands of these anti-Soviet political refugees and

from the Japanese.

Displaced Persons ended up in western Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States of America. After World War II, the Soviet Union and Communistcontrolled Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia expelled millions of ethnic Germans, most of whom were descendants of immigrants who had settled in those areas nearly two centuries before. This was allegedly in retaliation for the German Nazi invasion and their pan-German attempts at annexation. Most of the refugees moved to the West, including western Europe, and with tens of thousands seeking refuge in the United States. Spain sent many political activists into exile during Franco’s military regime from 1936 to his death in 1975. Following World War II, the creation of the state of Israel, and a series of uprisings against colonialist rule, the Middle East nations became more hostile in relation to their historic Jewish populations, sepharadim and mizrahiml, of nearly 1 million people. Most of them emigrated, with the majority resettling in Israel. At the same time, the Palestinian diaspora resulted from Israel’s creation in 1948, in which 750,000 people were expelled or fled from their homes. The diaspora was enlarged by the effects of the 1967 Arab - Israeli War. Many Palestinians continue to live in refugee camps maintained by Middle Eastern nations, but others have resettled in the Middle East and other countries. The 1947 Partition resulted in the migration of millions of people between India and Pakistan. Millions were murdered in the religious violence of the period, with estimates of fatalities up to 2 million people. Thousands of former subjects of the British Raj went to the UK from the Indian subcontinent after India and Pakistan became independent in 1947.

13 35

the cold war and formation of post colonial states During and after the Cold War-era, huge populations of refugees migrated from conflict, especially from thendeveloping countries. Upheaval in the Middle East and Central Asia, some of which was related to power struggles between the United States and the Soviet Union, created new refugee populations which developed into global diasporas. In Southeast Asia, many Vietnamese people emigrated to France and later millions to the United States, Australia and Canada after the Cold War-related Vietnam War. Later, 30,000 French colons from Cambodia were displaced after being expelled by the Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot. A small, predominantly Muslim ethnic group, the Cham people long residing in Cambodia, were nearly eradicated. The mass exodus of Vietnamese people from Vietnam coined the term ‘Boat people’. In Southwest China, many Tibetan people emigrated to India, following the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959 after the failure of his Tibetan uprising. This wave lasted until the 1960s, and another wave followed when Tibet was opened up to trade and tourism in the 1980s. It is estimated that about 200,000 Tibetans live now dispersed worldwide, half of whom in are India, Nepal and Bhutan. In lieu of lost citizenship papers, the Central Tibetan Administration offers Green Book identity documents to Tibetan refugees. Sri Lankan Tamils have historically migrated to find work, notably during the British colonial period. Since the beginning of the civil war in 1983, more than 800,000 Tamils have been displaced within Sri Lanka as local diaspora, and over a half million Tamils living as the Tamil diaspora in destinations such as India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and Europe. The Afghan diaspora resulted from the 1979 conflict with the Soviet Union; both official and unofficial records indicate that the war displaced over 6 million people, resulting in the creation of the largest refugee population worldwide today. Many Iranians fled the 1979 Iranian Revolution which culminated in the fall of the USA/British-ensconced Shah.

14 36


The Assyrian diaspora expanded by the Civil War in Lebanon, the coming into power of the Islamic republic of Iran, the Ba’athist dictatorship in Iraq, and the present-day unrest in Iraq pushed Assyrians on the roads of exile. In Africa, a new series of diasporas formed following the end of colonial rule. In some cases as countries became independent, numerous minority descendants of Europeans emigrated; others stayed in the lands which had been family homes for generations. Uganda expelled 80,000 South Asians in 1972 and took over their businesses and properties. The 1990s Civil war in Rwanda between rival ethnic groups Hutu and Tutsi turned deadly and produced a mass efflux of refugees. In Latin America, following the 1959 Cuban Revolution and the introduction of communism, over a million people have left Cuba. A million Colombian refugees have left Colombia since 1965 to escape the country’s violence and civil wars. In South America, thousands of Argentinan, Chilean and Uruguayan refugees fled to Europe during periods of military rule in the 1970s and 1980s. In Central America, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans fled conflict and poor economic conditions. Hundreds of thousands of people fled from the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 into neighboring countries. Thousands of refugees from deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe have gone to South Africa. The long war in Congo, in which numerous nations have been involved, has also created millions of refugees. The South Korean diaspora during the 1990s caused the fertility rate to drop when a large amount of the middle class emigrated, as the rest of the population continued to age. To counteract the change in these demographics, the South Korean government initiated a diaspora engagement policy in 1997.


venezuela’s bolivarian diaspora Following the presidency of Hugo Chåvez and the establishment of his Bolivarian Revolution, over 1.6 million Venezuelans emigrated from Venezuela in what has been called the Bolivarian diaspora.



Gregorio Acuna

2017 Venezuela Protests

2017 protests The 2017 Venezuelan protests are a series of protests occurring throughout Venezuela. Protests began in January 2017 after the arrest of multiple opposition leaders, murder of several students by government officials, and the cancellation of dialogue between the opposition and Nicolås Maduro’s government.

gregorio acuna Gregorio Acuna is Venezuelan born photographer and director, a friend and former colleague at OCAD U. He documented the riots which took place in Caracas, Mayo 2017.



Gregorio Acuna

2017 Venezuela Protests



Gregorio Acuna

2017 Venezuela Protests

“Home is utopia - a no place, a nowhere, an imaginary space longed for, always already lost in the very formation of the idea of home.�

- Susan Friedman

Google Eearth

Binzhou Shi

4. Statistics and Data 46


Google Earth


Canada’s Foreign Population Statistics

clopædia Britannica's tory", ''Encyclopædia Brica.com. Retrieved 5 January




Weheliye, Alexander (2009). Black Europe and the African Diaspora. p. 162. ISBN 9780252076572.



Caribbean & Latin America


British IslesU



Origin of Immigrants



Caribbean & Latin America


British Isles



2012 survey A 2012 survey by Gallup found that given the opportunity, 640 million adults would migrate to another country, with 23% of these would-be immigrant choosing the United States as their desired future residence, while 7% of respondents, representing 45 million people, would choose the United Kingdom. The other top desired destination countries (those where an estimated 69 million or more adults would like to go) were Canada, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Germany and Spain.

1 48




Google Earth

Breezanddijk, The Netherlands

20 peop newly di every m of the da

ple are isplaced minute ay

Over the last 20 years, the world population of displaced persons has increased from 33.9 million in 1997 to 65.6 million in 2017. 51% children Children below 18 years of age constituted about half of the refugee population in 2016.


This number continues to grow rapidly. Much of the growth occured during 2012 and 2015, caused by the Syrian conflict, along with conflicts in the regions of Iraq and Yemen, subSaharan Africa including Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Statistic from the UN Refugee Agency

South Sudan, and Sudan.


22.5 million refugees at end-2016

40.3 million internally displaced people

2.8 million asylum - seekers Refugee Stock Per Country


55% of refugees come from the following three countries: Syrian Arab Republic 5.5 million Afghanistan 2.5 million

Statistics from the UN Refugee Agency

South Sudan 1.4 million

Top Emigrant Popula by Country of Destination


This map looks at the top destinations for emigrants across the globe.

G 12


United Kingdom 854, 3000 Canada 783, 6000

France 778, 4000

Unite Kingd

United States

Spain 585, 3000

Italy 578, 9000 United States 46, 627 000



ations Russian Federation 11, 643, 000

Germany 2, 006, 000

Ukraine 483,5000

R u ss s ian n F e d e ratii o n

ed dom Germany U k ra i n e Fra n c e Italy

Pakistan United S a u d i A ra b A ra b i a E m i ra t e s


Pakistan 391, 3000


UAE 809, 5000

India 524, 1000 Thailand 391, 3000 Australia

Saudi Arabia 10, 186, 000

Australia 676, 4000



“Refugee, exile, immigrant whatever species of displaced human we were, we did not simply live in two cultures. Displaced people also lived in two time zones, the here and the there, the present and the past.� -Viet Thanh Nguyen


Top Refugee Populat by Country of Destination


Although refugee populations have fluctuated through the decades, however some countries have remained consisted in hosting large refugee communites. This map displays contrues which report refugee population larger than 500,000 in 2015 Furthermore, it displayes the refugee share of the total population in percentage. In the year of 2015, Canada held 31,114 refugees.


2, 751 479 United States

2, 664 00 Palestinian Territories

2, 051 096 Lebanon

1, 617 179 Pakistan

1, 610 355 Turkey

1, 587 374 Iran

982, 000 713, 204 Syria


659, 524 60

The United United Sta States



Germany France Turkey Paletinian Territories

Lebanon Syria Jordan





Chad Uganda Ethiopia South Sedan Kenya




Google Earth

Kajaki, Afghanistan

05. Personal Narratives

Google Earth

Faiyum, Egypt

“ There is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and useful for life in later years than some good memory, especially a memory connected with childhood, with home.� -Fyodor Dostoevsky


Uknown Source

St Petersburg, Russia

“In Lost Man’s World”

From Czechoslovakia to Canada An Interview with Paulina Duska A Story from the Eastern Bloc Paulina Duska Katya Romanova

and Moravia. So the country used to be called Czechoslovakia and it was a communist regime. With that comes oppression in many different ways. However, I had a wonderful childhood. I would start there because I grew up in a very

Paulina: You know, our journey is important to us because

loving, caring, and close knit family. So my childhood was

we all have our own journeys and they shape who we are.

wonderful in that regard in terms of personal family units.

All of our early experiences combined together shape who

Outside of the family unit, life growing up in that communist

we are today, who we might be. Some may be negative or

regime was very much censored, monitored and prescribed.

A Story From the Eastern Bloc

not, but at the end of the day it’s what we go through that helps us grow and become who we are today. So I think

So in my school years - my junior, elementary, junior and senior high - my education was

you are doing important work for yourself because obviously

basically prescribed and very much

this is part of your journey as

censored. Therefore it was focused

well. To give voice to this issue

on the Eastern Bloc countries. It

through others, I think that’s

was focused on history as written by the Communists and their

very exciting.

various wonderful writers that have As for my story, it’s not like

totally censored everything that the

I think of it or talk about it or

kids were learning. The overall idea

live it every day. It’s put in the

of the East against the West, Cold

drawer and once in a while I

War era and was what surrounded

open the drawer so to speak

me and what we had to learn in

and reminisce about it for one

school. Back then I was speaking

reason or another.

Russian fluently of all things - it was in fact the primary language

Katya: Paulina, thank you

which we had to learn - we weren’t

so much. Everything you are

allowed to learn any other languag-

speaking about is extremely

es. The former Soviet Union was the

relatable. And that’s a lot a lot

biggest ally of not just the Czecho-

of what this thesis has to deal

slovakia but all the Eastern Bloc

with is also exploring the idea

countries. So I’m sure you relate to

of identity and how it’s shaped through cultures and experienc-

Paulina Duska

that part of history.

es like this. So I would love to hear briefly about what life

So - wonderful childhood. But outside of the family every-

was like in the Czech Republic around the time when you

thing was censored and prescribed and we had to belong

made the decision to migrate.

to various organizations as kids to the communist agenda. And as I grew older and in from junior to senior high my

P: Well let me start by saying that I grew up in what was

eyes were opening up more to just the level of censorship. I

then Czechoslovakia. It was a communist country. It was

grew up in a family where mum and dad were professional

made up of what is now the Czech Republic and Slovakia


in their own careers but they were not growing profession-

used to listen to Pink Floyd tapes but Pink Floyd was one

ally because they continually refused to join the Communist

of the bands that was blacklisted and they we couldn’t get

Party. I saw my mom for example as a teacher - she contin-

records of the Pink Floyd. All the western block American

ued to be degraded from teaching.

and English bands were not allowed and people would go to jail if a neighbor heard them playing Pink Floyd through

For example sort of going from Senior High to junior high to

the open window.

elementary to kindergarten for all of her teaching career because she would not prescribe the views of the Communist

Artistically speaking and creatively speaking - it was a

Party. So there was punishment for folks that did not sign

prison. Nobody was allowed to subscribe to anything that

up to the communists. My father was against the communist

was not put out by the communists.

This was the conversation around the dinner table and as our social family gatherings were around talking about what communism death to each and every person and what it does socially and politically. Everything that was on TV that was sort of spin and communist propaganda. My parents would then turn to say to us kids - “Well, children, this isn’t exactly not how it is really. And here is the real reality.” So I grew up with two sets of viewpoints. One that was given by my teachers in school and one that was shared with me by family and friends.

“By the time I got to senior high I had a really good understanding what communism really entails and how oppressive it is on people, not just economically and professionally, but also as far as any kind of freedom - freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom to pursue whatever you wanted - none of it existed.”

“When we were in high school, we would get together in someone’s house who would have a tape smuggled through the border from a relative in West Berlin. The Pink Floyd tape was a copy of a copy, you could barely hear it. But we would go under a blanket and close the windows and curtains and we would listen to this music, which had so much message about what communism entailed.”

In Lost Man’s World

regime. He couldn’t speak about it openly but among his group of friends and co-workers and to the trusted folks.

No one was allowed to travel. We had passports but they weren’t passports that you kids grew up with. They were passports that only allowed you to travel among European and Eastern European bloc countries. And then of course hearing all kinds of horror stories of people escaping and loss of life because they got caught at the border trying to cross illegally. But back then the communist regime would punish artistic folk like you guys for speaking out for sharing their views that a day they would punish people for listening to music. Good example is I used to love music and we


From Czechoslovakia to Canda

I left when I was 18 years old right after I graduated high

K: My parents both went to university and in order to be

school in the summer of 1984. By September I was to

accepted into university they had to basically sign a paper

attend university but I left just before just before that.

that said that they were communists. There was no way

Now here’s another example how the communist regime

around it. So it was definitely something that also has been

oppressed people because both of my parents were

put on the shelf in my family because it’s something that

not communists. They did not sign up to be part of the

people try not to think about. But it’s very true that during

Communist Party. I was given a limited choice of what I can

those years you could only depend on friends and family

do and I did not have the freedom to choose what university

and I feel like in a way that is why Eastern people have

or what programs I could attend. Because our family was

such a strong need for the family unit and a home because

basically labeled as traitors. We were defiant. We were

we depend so much on each other and not our government.

not a part of the regime. And so for us as kids, we had no freedom of choice and furthermore the whole educational

P: Absolutely you’re right. The other part is we have really

system, especially post-secondary education was very

strong work ethic. Nobody else is going to help you get to

controlled by the government.

where you need to go, you have to work really hard yourself to get there. It’s almost survivorship thats built into it and

Therefore the way young people would get into university

the fact that if you work hard in life, it will reward you. But

was - your parents had to be communists, you have to

you can’t rely on others. You have to work hard if you want

have a lot of money to pay somebody on the admission, or

to get anywhere in life.

you have to have high ranking government officials to get

A Story From the Eastern Bloc

you in. So your marks didn’t matter, your intelligence and smarts didn’t matter, your hard work at school didn’t matter.

do with two things. One was facing the oppression, and

It matters if you have the right connections and the right

other was realizing that I have no freedom of choice in

amount of money.

what education I want to pursue, I will have no freedom of choice in what career I can work in. Because if you’re

That was my first wake up call. Oh - I can’t pursue the things

not part of the communist regime certain jobs are off limits

that I want to pursue in life because of the regime and we

such as such teachers, lawyers, and any sort of government

are being singled out as a family. You have very little rights.

job that had really high income attached to it with great

Thats when I realized that I have no freedom to choose my

benefits and security - you couldn’t be part of it. So I

own way and destiny when it comes to my career or my

started sort of looking ahead as an 18 year old, I started

education or where and I want to go in life.

looking ahead and what my life is going to look like. And just like any other 18 year old I had on one hand - hopes

Paulina Duska, Austria


That was a big part of it. But my decision to leave had to

and dreams and goals for myself and realizing that - wow

Austria. We got up around 4:00 a.m. so that it was still

half of these dreams I will never accomplish within this

dark and proceeded to hike up this mountain. The guys had

regime. There is a wall and I will never be able to get past

to put a shot of whiskey in me. I remember that and were

that wall. The decision was made to leave it because I was

laughing about it because I was so scared.

in this relationship with Kayla’s father and he pretty much

better for ourselves and for our future together and potential children and all the rest. I think there’s a commonality within that. A lot of people were looking at their lives in terms of their personal lack of freedoms and choices and then looking at the government regime and disagreeing with their fundamental way of how they affect people. We decided to leave just after I graduated high school. K: Would you be able to tell me the next set of events

that happened once you and Kayla’s father made up your minds to when you realize that you couldn’t stay any longer. What were your options at that point?

“My life became comprised of a couple of t-shirts, a pair of shorts, and a few dollars in my pocket.” That was all I was taking with me. As we got to the top of the mountain it started to get lighter outside and we got to a point I remember very well - there was a white painted wooden pole and on that post there was a sign and it read “leaving Yugoslavia”. The other side of the post read “entering Austria”. Along this post was this narrow trail. I looked down about a mile along that trail and I could see

P: Like many others folks we decided to leave. Just under

the border patrol walking, they were way up in the distance.

the understanding that we’re going on a holiday to what

We were basically crossing illegally into another country

used to be Yugoslavia. Because former Yugoslavia was part

and the risk of being apprehended, or shot at, or God

of the Eastern bloc, we were able to freely travel to parts of

knows what.

Yugoslavia. We went on an “official” holiday for a couple of weeks. We told our parents we will see them in two weeks. We couldn’t share with them our real plans for two reasons - one was I didn’t think that they would ever approve of our actions, and two - we were worried that if they knew, they would be persecuted by the government as accomplices to what was looked at as a highly illegal, and not to mention shaming, action. Families were tortured and interrogated afterwards if they knew that a family member escaped. So

We were absolutely scared out of our minds. We could see the border patrol guy in the uniform with a gun on his back walking away from us. We quietly split over the border and proceeded to go down the hill. By the time we got to the bottom of that mountain on the other side of it was about

In Lost Man’s World

made up his mind that he can’t stay there either. We were young and in love and we wanted to pursue something

six a.m. and we got to the first main road and without an idea of what to do we began walking down the road. A car pulled over and they were the Border Patrol security.

we wanted to shield them from potential pain of all of that. We took a train and arrived in what was Croatia. While there we were planning our next move. We connected with friends of ours who lived in West Berlin who escaped Czechoslovakia regime couple years prior to us. They traveled to meet us in Croatia. We studied a lot of maps, hiking trails and mountain trails. And one day we packed our backpacks - and by that I mean I had a backpack, he had a backpack and all the belongings we had and with that and with our German friends who were who became our guides we crossed to Croatian borders with Austria. At that point in time it was perceived to be a neutral country who very much welcomed refugees from Eastern communist regimes. So that was our destination we were going to somehow make it to Austria. In the middle of the night one summer night of July 1984 we camped in this forest knowing that there’s a huge mountain in front of us and on the other side of the mountain is


From Czechoslovakia to Canda

My family was immediately seeking asylum.” They quickly realized we had just crossed blacklisted from any further the border so they took us into their car and drove us to potential for promotion or the nearest town. That is when proceedings of the refugee processing started. We were placed in jail because we increases in their income. All were illegally entering a sovereign country and we had no of that was frozen immediately. papers other than Czechoslovakian passport which really doesn’t mean anything. We were processed, fingerprinted, My youngest sister who and photographed as any other prisoner. was eventually to apply for We were put into jail cells and separated. I remember the university was blacklisted jail building that we were taken to, one part of it was for men and the other part was for women. I got thrown into from all universities in the a jail cell that had a bed, a night table, a chair and a tiny little window high up near the ceiling. I remember crawling whole of Czechoslovakia. So and putting the chair on that night table in an effort to try as a result of my actions my and see out this little window, and I went and looked out this little window I could see a court yard where prisoners own sister never had the were dressed in their striped outfits. You know the black and white stripes looking guys - they were walking the court freedom of choice nor yard so I assumed they were regular Austrian prisoners that opportunity to purwere part of the jail population. And I remember sitting in the jail cell thinking: sue her at education in the “What have I done? There’s no way in which going back. I’ll never see my she otherwise could have if family again. I don’t know what there had been a different is going to happen to us - I regime or if we hadn’t chosen don’t know where we’re going.” to escape. This was a very We stayed in that prison for about a week. I remember I difficult time in terms of my showered with a group of other prisoner women. We were shoved in one room and they had these overhead showers parents finding out that I had and so you’re naked showering with 30 other people - all escaped Czechoslovakia, the of this was so too real to me because I grew up in a very sheltered, loving, and caring environment where no drama, regime, the family, country no crisis and no adventures - if you will - that would ever put and back in those days that me in any kind of risk. was a permanent thing. It was During that week Austrian officials contacted the Czechoslovakian government to inform them that we very final in realizing that we have escaped and that they have us in custody. The Czechoslovakian government in turn went after my family would never see each other and my parents. They were brought into their local police again. That’s what we believed. station. They were interrogated on whether they were trying They asked in German what we were doing there, and after

A Story From the Eastern Bloc

telling them the only thing we knew in German - “We are

to cover for us. They were interviewed several times with the premise that surely they had to know about their 18 year old daughter and her plan.


I remember landing in Calgary and the government put us in a hotel and said “Welcome to Canada. You’re now

environment once they made sure we had no history of

going to be living in Calgary and we will provide you with

criminal activity. Then they moved us on to a little hotel in

a basic apartment”. Because this government sponsored

the Austrian Alps in this picturesque little town and that’s

apartments they furnished it with some very basic spare

where we stayed for almost a year. During that year we

furniture. We got financial assistance of three hundred

applied to our Canadian embassy in Vienna to move to

dollars a month, which was the very minimum. They basically

Canada. We had gone through several rounds of interviews

said “Well you’re on your own. We can provide you with a

with the Canadian embassy officials. It took us a year to get

decent English education. We can give you English courses.”

a Canadian visa clearance and passports.

Which we took and the rest was up to us.

That year of waiting the Czechoslovakian government in

The initial shock of being in a Western bloc country where

their brilliance decided that oh this is a young person why

I grew up with the idea that the West is the devil and

don’t we allow her parents to travel to see her in Austria

everything in the West is corrupt; it’s crooked. It is like living

and talk her into going back to Czechoslovakia, talk her into

in hell. And so you have on one hand your propaganda

going back home and basically wanting to use me as an

with which you grew up, and then you come here and you

example to all the other young people of what not to do and

see the abundance of everything and the freedom of it all.

to point at her and say “See? Her parents went and brought

So once I got past that first shock of being here, I quickly

her back and she realized she made that mistake an she’s

realized that I have to rely upon my own values and beliefs

very regretful.”

that I grew up with which is - you work harder to overcome

obstacles as best as you can. You look ahead. You move They would allow them an official trip to the Austria

where most people were being processed as refugees. That is when we were asked to

say that after all the grass is greener

in Czechoslovakia.

ahead. You do what you have to do. The first year I quickly adapted to living here because of my work ethic and my actions. I was of course very lonely and sad and missing my family and my home country and quickly realized that I am forever going to be living with a heart that is split: half of it is back home with my family and half of it eventually was growing into this idea that Canada is now my home.

However that didn’t happen. My mom and dad came to visit at once and it was very hard visit. But during that visit my father said to me “Even though this is really hard and I think the journey ahead is really hard, I fully support what you are doing because I really believe that freedom is in Canada.” My parents supported me, knowing I would never have such freedom back home. It took us a year to go through the process of arriving in Canada which we did in 1985. K: Would you say your assimilation process to Canada

was difficult or easy?

“Coming to Canada was not easy, I felt lost, like I’m in no man’s land - I can’t go back where I used to belong and I don’t quite belong to where I am now.”

In Lost Man’s World

It was a most difficult time emotionally on my family. However eventually they transfered us out of the prison

“I am forever going to be living with a heart that is split.” However it has never changed in terms of the emotional impact. It is something that I live with every day. In fact - I’ve come from a very close family unit and yet I live on the other side of the world. Even though I call Canada home, my heart is still with my folks back home. I think about this often and about the things that we cherish the most is our families or loved ones and how important it is to stay connected to that relationship. I guess in a way it’s because of the separation physically and demographically speaking you grow even more close to your loved ones emotionally and so that’s very much part of my existence. When I first started I knew very little English just very basic “Hello how are you. I am fine thank you. Good night and good morning.” That’s about it. Absolute minimum. So I started watching TV and getting used to the English language. Then I started attending


From Czechoslovakia to Canda

English classes and I started thinking in those classes:

this so-called Velvet Revolution that basically the communist

What can I do? What else can I do to better my situation

government was overthrown, there was a ripple effect

and to give me a chance in life here? I’m here to stay. I can

through Poland and Germany. When communism fell they

either choose to stagnate and struggle or I can choose to

started opening up the borders and they started looking at

put one foot in front of another and set little goals for myself.

eventually allowing people to come back. However by the

Because I wanted to build a life for myself. That was proof

time I was able to save enough money to actually purchase

to me this whole journey and the heartache and the pain

airplane tickets I have not seen my family for 14 years.

was worth something. But believe me, in Canada you must

When I left, my sister Kamila was 13. When I saw her next

grasp your own opportunities as well.

she was a 27 year old woman.

You must work hard so doors open for you. Those that

I am very connected to my family. Back then I almost

come here and are willing to assimilate to the counter

had to create little compartments in my brain. One

culture, are willing to move forward, are willing to grow

compartment was me making it in Canada and making

and are willing to contribute to their families, their

a living and surviving and building something here. The

communities, and to Canadian society as a whole, those

other compartment was my family who lived far away who

folks are successful. Those that come here and expect

I don’t see year after year. Leaving that compartment shut

that things will be handed to them, they stagnate, they

and allowing only the joys of letters and the joys of the

become dependent on government provisions and never

occasional phone call to feed my emotional pain, which was

really become any contributing members of society. In my

very hard.

A Story From the Eastern Bloc

early 20s with the goal of actually completing all the high school credits here and having a high school diploma as

The first time we went back to see the family was when

well, I had my own business and started employing people

Kayla was four years old. The impact of me leaving at

eventually and I had five folks working for me. I was sort of

18 years old continues to this day. It’s never gets easier

entrepreneur on the side and saving every single penny that

emotionally it just get easier to live with. Our whole family’s

I made. I think when I was around 25 I was finished all my

lives are different because of this choice we made back

high school courses.

then. Some of it is hard to live with. Most of it is quite great. But it is only in retrospect you realize where benefits are.

Meanwhile I had a marriage that was becoming difficult

Living through it was a very hard journey.

because my husband was pursuing his own educational needs.The marriage was becoming harder and my husband was becoming very sick due to the stress we faced, and I wanted to begin university. My daughter Kayla was born around then, so the whole situation became challenging to say the least. I was really driven to get a university degree which was my ticket to secure my future. It didn’t matter that I had a baby who was up all night and had lectures to attend in the morning and all of that somehow I got through and I graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing and specialty in psychiatry. That was my way of saying “Hey we’re going to be okay and I’m going to make it work.” I came here with the idea that I am pursuing a life of choices and freedom and opportunities and that is what drove me. At that time I communicated with my family through letters. I kept all of the letters I have from that time. So we went back and forth and that was our way of staying connected. Once in a while I would make a phone call. Phone calls in those days were super expensive so that was more of a special occasion like Easter, Christmas or someone’s birthday. The communist regime fell in 1989 and through Paulina Duska


K: We talked a lot about how it is your use your European

identity that allows you to be a hardworking person to succeed in Canada. Where would you say your identity stems from? Would you say that it mostly stems from your childhood and the values that you were taught by your culture or would you say that it is your identities now more

“I am Canadian in that I am free.”

and yet you resonate more with a Canadian identity? Or is it the combination of this whole process that you lived through? P: Well that’s a very good question. I would have to say that my identity stems from my upbringing and my values and beliefs that were placed upon me by my parents. I would have to say that throughout this journey I stayed true to who I am. I am a Canadian in that I have adopted this belief in equal opportunity, of freedom to make choices and realizing that you are part of a larger community that you can influence if you wish. You are not controlled, you are not governed in a personal intrusive way, you are not impacted the same way you would be by the Communist regime. I still am who I was as a little girl - I’m still me. But I hardworking, and supportive of those around me. I can now give back to my Canadian community. I have in a way, come full circle. I am once again surrounded by love through my Canadian family here. I am remarried to the most wonderful, supportive and loving man who is also my best friend, and have a set of children and relatives here that have a special place in my heart. I work with my patients in the

In Lost Man’s World

think this journey has taught me to be extremely strong,

clinic every day that are struggling in their lives for many different reasons. I am able to offer care in supporting them and guiding them back to wellness along with hopefully better quality of life. I give back to the community through supporting individuals with mental health and wellness who in turn help to build stronger families and communities. It is the educational and professional opportunities that I have had in Canada, along with personal growth, which allowed me to share, guide and support my family here and others I come in contact with. I don’t think that I would have had the same amount of opportunity of growth back home back then. K: After all of this, where would you say home is now?

P: I would definitely say Canada is home. I have lived here for 34 years, so all my life is here. However half of my heart is with my family in Europe. When I go and visit them it’s like I simply picked up where I left off and so here I am right there with my loved ones. Right there is the countryside I love. I love this city. I love the history. I love everything about the Czech Republic. I love going back but my adult life I have built for my myself is in Canada and Canada is home. I’m a Canadian, but I’m a Czech girl at heart.


Google Earth


6. My Story 78


Katya Romanova

Pearson Airport, Toronto

me our balcony

1995, at home in my first apartment in St Petersburg

Mama Anrusha Me

2017, coming back home to my apart I haven’t been home in 20 years.

2001, Golf of Finland

Mama, Petergoff, 1980


My Story My journey began in the fall of 1994 in St Petersburg, Russia. I was born into a beautiful family and had a wonderful early childhood. After my father’s passing in 1998, our lives took several sudden turns which eventually led to my brother’s proposal for us to move to Canada. This idea was sparked by him, and although his health did not allow us all to remain together, his dream was eventually carried out by my mother and I in August of 2004. I have now been living in Canada for 13 years.

tment in St Petersburg.

Same spot, almost 40 years apart!

Me, Petergoff, 2017 81

Nostalgia &

Lost in Translation Essay by Katya Romanova Nostalgia in Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation

Throughout Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation, the reader familiarizes themselves with the various notions of nostalgia. The author draws deep connections between her displacement and her worlds entitled “Paradise”, “Exile”, and “The New World”. Lost in Translation is a memoir narrating the events of Eva Hoffman’s life. The story consists of constant change and often questions the concept of “home.” It is through Hoffman’s memories of post-war Poland, and her awareness of her distorted perspective, that the notion of nostalgia becomes a non-quantifiable factor in her diaspora. While her nostalgia for her culture contributes to her resistance to assimilation in Canada, it is also her nostalgia which furthers her desire to find a new anchor, or “here/now”. The trauma of displacement and being uprooted is what intensifies Hoffman’s nostalgia - which in turn makes her search for home, or to redefine home in order to find peace.

first, severe attack of nostalgia, or tęsknota – a word that adds to nostalgia the tonalities of sadness and longing. It is a feeling whose shades and degrees I’m destined to know intimately, but at this hovering moment, it comes upon me like a visitation from a whole new geography of emotions, an annunciation of how much an absence can hurt.” (Hoffman, Part 1:

From the beginning of the memoir, Hoffman sets nostalgia as a prominent theme. The book opens up with Eva’s departure of Poland, during which she introduces the Polish term “tęsknota;” the word lacks translation into English but describes a feeling between nostalgia and homesickness with a tonality of melancholy.

“Nostalgia is a source of poetry, and a form of fidelity. It is also a species of melancholia, which used to be thought of as an illness. As I walk the streets of Vancouver, I am pregnant with the images of Poland, pregnant and sick. Tesknota throws a film over everything around me, and directs my vision inward. The largest presence within me is the welling up of absence, of what I have lost. This pregnancy is also a phantom pain.” (Hoffman, Part 2: Exile – 23/91)

“When the brass band on the shore strikes up the jaunty mazurka rhythms of the Polish anthem, I am pierced by a youthful sorrow so powerful that I suddenly stop crying and try to hold still against the pain. I desperately want time to stop, to hold the ship still with the force of my will. I am suffering my


Paradise – 2/125)

Part Two -“Exile”- is narrated through nostalgic lyricism. Eva writes about her tormenting memories such as her daydreams through her life in Vancouver. In a way, Hoffman seems to have a negative outlook on her foreign surroundings, her system refusing assimilation like a foreign food. She describes her state as being frozen in time, in which nostalgia – the most “lyrical of feelings”– freezes her memories of home, house, garden, and country forever. (Hoffman, Part 2: Exile – 23/92)

It is this type of nostalgia that gives way for an intricacy of diasporic emotion. The meaning of “home” becomes construed when one is fantasizing. It therefore becomes more of a “nowhere” than a

“somewhere.” Hoffman’s character connects back to Poland through recollections of cultural customs, sound and smells, all while admitting she does not know why. In modern times, even nostalgia has its politics. Hoffman describes there are two ways in which humanity critiques nostalgia. There are the conservatives of the sentiments, whom believe in lest we forget. The opposition believes there are ideologues of the future which see all attachments to the future as an inevitable march of events into the next Utopia. (Hoffman, Part 2: Exile-24/91) “Only certain Eastern European writers, forced to march into the future too often, know the regressive dangers of both forgetfulness and clinging to the past. But then, they are among our world’s experts of mourning, having lost not an archaeological but a living history. And so, they praise the virtues of a true memory. Nabokov unashamedly reinvokes and revives his childhood in the glorious colors of tesknota.” (Hoffman, Part 2: Exile – 36/146) Hoffman’s nostalgic lyricism echoes Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita as he poetically draws the reader to his side with tales of childhood trauma, of eternal need to fill a void and yearning for that which is long gone. “The nostalgia I have been cherishing all these years is a hypertrophied sense of lost childhood.” (Nabokov, Speak, Memory) I too find myself to be amongst those pessimistic Eastern European writers. I understand nostalgia as a longing for return to some place, some time. It is the most heart wrenching and unrewarding pain. It is my endless search for home, for family, for a

touch of familiar. It is the agonizing sadness I feel when facing the truth about my desire of return - the truth that the place which I long for no longer exists. What made me happy, what made me, me, and my family, my family. All I know is I live through the notions of nostalgia, and it is my desperate search for home, or for a familiar feeling, or for a “here now” that pushes me through life. It is my yearning for peace in my heart. It is wrong, as everyday my memories fade further away from me and I find myself more and more of an alienated shell of a person. It is my longing, my pain and my nostalgia that prevent me from taking room anywhere but the past. The “What if?” and “What could have been?” To me nostalgia is no longer driving past a house I used to live in, or a school I attended or a song I heard in my childhood. It is all those things, but it much more also. It is my longing for my past life, that was taken away from me when I was too young to understand. It is a rock in my chest which gets heavier every day, dragging me to completely disconnect from my surroundings. It is losing my identity, my anchor, my homeland. These sentiments I hold on to weaken as memory fades, and that is what makes them so dangerous to the heart. I knew I would be lonely for a while when I could not understand their gestures or facial expressions. Coined as a medical condition in the modern period, nostalgia is a type of medical homesickness.


Essay by Katya Romanova Nostalgia in Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation

“Ironically enough, one of the ways in which I continue to know that I’m not completely assimilated is through my residual nostalgia – which many of my friends find a bit unseemly, as if I were admitting to a shameful weakness – for the more stable, less strenuous conditions of anchoring, of home.” (Hoffman, Part 3: The New World – 34/132) If alienation is at the center of one’s soul it is also the awareness which pushes Eva through in her search for belonging. Hoffman writes about her inability to live in exile for the rest of her life and her desire to regain a whole identity while losing her alienation and keeping herself. She searches for a solution; a way to live between her centers somewhere along the border.

“Theodor Adorno, that most vitriolic of America’s foreign critics, once warned his fellow refugees that if they lost their alienation, they’d lose their souls. A bracingly uncompromising idea of integrity: but I doubt that Adorno could have maintained it over a lifetime without the hope of returning home without having a friendly audience back there for his dialectical satires. The soul can shrivel from an excess of critical distance, and if I don’t want to remain in arid internal exile for the rest of my life, I have to find a way to lose my alienation without losing myself. But how does one bend toward another culture without falling over, how does one strike an elastic balance between rigidity and self-effacement? How does one stop reading the exterior signs of a foreign tribe and step into the inwardness, the viscera of their meanings? Every anthropologist understands the difficulty of such a feat; and so does every immigrant” (Hoffman, Part 3: The

Much like Hoffman herself it is my alienation that allows me to tap into my past and create meaningful connections to the present. It is my personal triangulation which allows me to comprehend all angles of my experience. It is a layering of experiences, a composition of cultures and a lack of familiarity which reminds me to value of people, relationships and a grander purpose in life. It is the same fuel in my soul which carried Hoffman across the globe in search for a home which gives me hope for a future, belonging and for one day having a family and a placement. Hoffman writes about how her cherishment of uncertainty is the best measure for her assimilation, because it is in her misfittings that she fits in most. In The New World Eva finds a way to live like a mosaic made of fragments, and the consciousness of them. Because it is only due to that consciousness, that she remains an immigrant. (Hoffman, Part 2: Exile – 145) However most of all it is the fuel which reminds me that we must always search for home within ourselves first. It is that which reminds me of the importance of placing oneself outside of the past and the future, Krakow or Vancouver, St Petersburg or Toronto, and find an autonomous home within the self.

New World – 50/132)

11 84


“Always the same dream: I am walking across an endless field, a Russian field.� - Vladimir Sorokin


7. Conclusion 86


Google Earth

Los Angeles, USA


Histories, whether gloal or personal, shape us as people. They shift continents and nations. Despite all that can and cannot be changed, no matter where I go I carry hope like an anti-nostalgia, a foretaste for the next land. Here in Canada or back home, the same notion reminds me that everything is understood through comparison, and to be fortunate is to have enough points of reference. May they only come in good circumstances.

Theodor Adorno said to lose one’s alienation is to lose one’s soul. But soul lives within - and one thing must remain constant, and that one thing must live within us. Home, like hope, must live within us, far from anyone who could take it away. After all, it is within the darkness of the sublime nature of our world, like a night sky in which you see a beacon of hope, a beacon of a constant. Like a foreign star that doesn’t shift position, it stands still with its light as a monument for hope.


In Turkish, yurt means homeland - but also means tribe, meaning home does not need to be rooted.


Photography Photography: Andres Kind - Unsplash Amos Chapple @amos.chapple Gregorio Acuna Katya Romanova Google Earth

Statistics United Nations

UN Refugee Agency


Literary Sources 1

8 “Migration and Emigration in Canada until 2003.” Migration and Emigration in Canada until 2003, by Roy Della Savia, Diplomica Verlag, 2017, p. 21.



"Hellenistic Civilization". Archived from the original on 5 July 2008.

Edmonston, Barry. “Canada’s Immigration Trends + Patterns.” Ualberta.ca, 2016, journals.library.ualberta.ca






"Early development of Greek society". Highered. mcgraw-hill.com. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014.

10 Eltis, Kingston David (1987). Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Oxford University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-19-536481-1.

“Human Population: Migration.” Population Reference Bureau, www.prb.org/Publications/Lesson-Plans/HumanPopulation/ Migration.aspx.

11 “Human Migrations Issues – Migrant Smuggling.” VIJI – The Vienna International Justice Institute, www.viji.eu/priorities/human-migrations-issues.

Brenner, Michael (13 June 2010). A Short History of the Jews. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-14351-X.

12 “Honors College Film Series: Gran Torino.” Honors College, honors.auburn.edu/events/honors-college-film-se ries-gran-torino/.

Tira, Sadiri Joy. Scattered and Gathered: a Global Compendium of Diaspora Missiology. Regnum, 2016.

13 Encyclopedia of Diasporas. Springer, 2005.

"An International Conference on the Baltic Archives Abroad". Kirmus.ee. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014.

Harris, J. E. (1993). "Introduction" In J. E. Harris (ed.), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, pp. 8–9.

Essay Sources 14

Hoffman, Eva. Lost in Translation Ankommen in der Fremde. Dt. Taschenbuch-Verl., 2004.

15 Dahl, Melissa. “The Little-Known Medical History of Homesickness.” New York Magazine, 25 Feb. 2016.




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