a€oethird-culture kida€A

An article in the FT by John Lanchester this week-end dealt with the notion of a€oethird-culture kida€A: children who accompany their parents when they went to live in countries other than their own and then become hybrid (taking elements of the a€oehomea€A culture from which their parents came and the culture of the place in which they were being brought up). The authors then use this as a metaphor for other purposes.

Roots are for trees. That was once a distinctly leftwing argument: the idea was that the political right had a vested interest in people staying, geographically and psychologically, in their place. When, during the second world war, General de Gaulle approached the philosopher Simone Weil to write down her ideas about the future of France, she called the resulting book Enracinement a€" Rootedness (though the English translation, a little plonkingly, calls it The Need for Roots). Her ideas were seen as conservative, expressing a nostalgia for a world in which people did not move from where their feet were firmly planted in the soil. When T.S. Eliot argued against a€oerootless cosmopolitansa€A a€" in his lexicon, a code phrase for Jews a€" he was making a similar point. People should be where they are from.

Now, curiously, the politics of rootedness seem to have reversed. It is the left that argues for protection from the forces of modernity, for the importance of the local, while the right argues that mobility and transience are simply unavoidable conditions of modern economic reality. The slogans of globalisation are a€oeget on your bikea€A and a€oethe world is flata€A. People who want to get on have to be willing to move, often and unhesitatingly, at the behest of their employer or to seek work.

ft via tecfa.unige


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Posted: April 8th, 2007
at 5:13pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: life,mnp is for the children

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