‘Dislocation’

The term dislocation is preferred to ‘migration’ because, again, it places the emphasis on the persons as beings who are located within the context of all the associated phenomena of home and their interaction with them. Migration refers to any individual or mass movement from one location to another, by humans and animals (across land, through water or air), which can be either a regular and repeated seasonal phenomenon or set off by adverse conditions. Thus, migration is a generic term that is not used exclusively to directly address the human experience.

Further, whereas migration refers explicitly to geographical movement, when people abandon their physical homes and move somewhere else, dislocation in the context of the proposed term ‘involuntary dislocation’ covers a much wider range of phenomena; it has a more specific focus and, hence, connotation. The focus is on the actual human experience of home, of feeling at home, in all its meanings and significations. Home (as will be discussed further in Chapter 5) is not understood exclusively as a physical and geographical locality, but also in terms of its various defining contexts, e.g. emotional, family, social, cultural, ethnic, linguistic, spiritual, etc. Accordingly, dislocation refers to the dislodge-ment from the entire set of all these contexts, of all these ‘homes’, and it does not just refer to migration from one place to another. The term dislocation conveys more accurately the highly complex set of phenomena that includes the ‘external’ movement (that ‘forced migration' addresses, exclusively) as well as all the other forms of uprooting from both the feeling of being at home as well as the various types of home spaces. In short, dislocation can encompass what we identified already as ‘internal’ and ‘external’ dislocation, whereas ‘migration’ refers exclusively to the latter.

Dislocation is preferred to the term displacement, although they appear to be synonymous. Indeed, both refer to being moved, dislodged, removed, extricated, shifted, uprooted, deracinated from a place, a locality, a site. Dislocation is based on the Latin ‘locus’, which means a ‘place’, and therefore, linguistically, these two terms are virtually synonymous. However, it is because of additional considerations that dislocation is preferred over displacement.

Displacement has another specific connotation within the psychoanalytic discourse that may create unnecessary confusion. In psychoanalysis, displacement (Freud’s original term in German was Verschienbung) is an unconscious defence mechanism according to which any mental material (e.g. thoughts, feelings, associations, memories, etc.) that is experienced as threatening or unpleasant to the psychological world of an individual is substituted by another material that is more acceptable and less threatening, although it may still remain as a source of discomfort; ‘in a phobia, for instance, displacement onto the phobic object permits the objectification, localisation and containment of anxiety’ (Laplanche & Pontalis, 1988, p. 121). Such specific meaning of displacement is completely different from what involuntary dislocation suggests, and it is, therefore, wise to avoid any unnecessary complications from such synonymy.

Finally, unlike displacement, dislocation has an association with the somatic condition that adds to the usefulness of the term ‘involuntary dislocation’. Dislocation in the body, e.g. as in a joint dislocation (of a shoulder or a hip), occurs when the bones move out of their natural and functioning position of being joined together and with other body parts. The outcome of such dislocation is that the functionality of that particular joint is lost (at least, for a period of time), and in addition, this would cause a great deal of physical pain and discomfort, negatively affecting the overall state of the whole body and one’s wellbeing. Involuntary dislocation, as used in this book, refers precisely to a comparable phenomenon where persons are dislodged from their usual and functioning positions with which they are joined together; they get out of alignment, so to speak, resulting in important functions being negatively affected, while also experiencing a great deal of pain and discomfort.

It is important to understand involuntary dislocation as a longitudinal process and not as an isolated and discrete act or event occurring only at one point in time. This process involves the movement from dislocation to relocation. Having differentiated between the two broad facets/moments of involuntary dislocation, i.e. the so-called internal and external ones, now we can be more specific in expanding our understanding and appreciating the finer differences of the following six segments of this process.

 
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