Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fitting dynamic pegs into linear spaces




I recently chanced upon this word, kharijee, in the course of an interview with a man born in the U.S but with roots in Afghanistan. He told me that the word meant 'the outsider' and was frequently used to refer to the foreigners living in Afghanistan. There are also repatriated Afghans who are called Afghan-e-Kharijee, the outsider Afghan, a choice phrase to refer to people who belong but also don't.

So when I went searching for Afghan identity, I found myself hunting for traits/values/behaviors that made one feel more Afghan. But then I realized, just like there are infinite ways of being Indian, there are infinite ways of being Afghan. So my real question needs to be what helps one claim the label, 'Afghan' (not any kind of Kharijee). So that is my question now.

By opening up the space for everyone to be called Afghan if they claimed the label, I was able to include what they frequently left unspoken out of the fear that they would expose their outsiderness. But there is no outsiderness to expose. We are all insiders/outsiders most of the time.

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