The six segments of the involuntary dislocation process

  • (a) The experience of being involuntarily dislodged from feeling at home, while being at the space that one considers home. This is what has been referred to above as the primary, initial, or ‘internal’ dislocation, understood as the sense of no longer experiencing home as home, as a safe and viable intimate space.
  • (b) The ‘external’ dislocation, when one reluctantly abandons one’s home space, experiencing it as being unsafe. Although this often involves the actual fleeing of the geographical location of home, it may also take the form of dislocation from other dimensions of home, e.g. cultural, spiritual, psychological, linguistic, political, etc.
  • (c) The yearning and search for a new home-space, a new sense of home, safer and more viable than the one that had to be involuntarily abandoned.
  • (d) Locating a new possible space that appears to have characteristics of a viable, new, and safe home.
  • (e) The struggle to settle in that new space in order to make it feel like home.
  • (f) The painful process of trying to make sense of all the above segments of the powerful and successive experiences, along with finding ways of containing the impact of all the events and experiences involved in this process. It is not easy to process all of the above, as well as their interrelationships, within a meaningful and coherent framework of understanding, grasping all the nuances of the dislocation process in relation to one’s own lived reality.

Invariably, each person experiences these six segments in a unique way and according to the specificities of one’s particular circumstances. For example, the second and third segments may not even be present in the case where persons are taken forcibly from their homes (voluntarily or involuntarily) and placed elsewhere. Be that as it may, the fact remains that dislocation involves a sequential process, and it is useful to understand it as a movement or a route ‘from dislocation to relocation’. Relocation, here, is not used in its strict legal term, which refers to refugees moved to a third country.

Once this is appreciated, it is obvious that it is not possible to use the term displacement in an equivalent phrase; it cannot be said that the process of dislocation involves the movement from ‘displacement to replacement’, as replacement, clearly, does not have the same meaning as relocation.

Therefore, it is for all these considerations that dislocation is suggested in this book as the preferred term, instead of displacement. Using ‘involuntary dislocation’ provides the added precision of appreciating the importance of the cluster of phenomena (engendered in tire six segments identified here), which are associated with tire experiences of being dislodged (following various upheavals) from feeling at home.

At the end of this subsection, I cannot help but insert a rather mischievous postscript, which may not be too much out of place, after all: the abbreviated initials of involuntary dislocation, i.e. ID, are a painful reminder of how the involuntarily dislocated persons often, tragically, adopt their very involuntary dislocation (i.e. their ID) as their (temporary?) identity document (ID), while they are struggling to acquire their new and legal ID (identity document) in the country they have moved to, involuntarily ...

And here is even a post-postscript: the involuntarily dislocated persons (IDPs) in a sense are, indeed, internally displaced persons (IDPs); internally here understood not in terms of the territorial boundaries of a state, but in terms of their own ‘internal state’ from where they were dislocated involuntarily. Therefore, in effect, IDPs (involuntarily dislocated persons) are truly IDPs (internally displaced persons)...

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