Belonging is an issue that affects us all, but for those who have been displaced, unsettled or made ‘homeless’ by the increased movements associated with the contemporary globalising era, belonging is under constant challenge. Migration throws into question not only the belongings of those who physically migrate, but also, particularly in a postcolonial context, the belongings of those who are indigenous to and ‘settlers’ in countries of migration, subsequent generations born to migrants, and those who are left behind in countries of origin.
Negotiating Belongings utilises narrative, ethnographic and autoethnographic approaches to explore the negotiations for belonging for six women from Dinka communities originating in southern Sudan. It explores belonging, particularly in relation to migration, through a consideration of belonging to nation-states, ethnic groups, community, family and kin. In exploring how the journeys towards desired belongings are haunted by various social processes such as colonisation, power, ‘race’ and gender, the author argues that negotiating belonging is a continual movement between being and becoming. The research utilises and demands different ways of listening to and really hearing the narratives of the women as embedded within non-Western epistemologies and ontologies. Through this it develops an understanding of the relational ontology,
cieng, that governs the ways in which the women exist in the world. The women’s narratives alongside the author’s experience within the Dinka community provide particular ways to interrogate the intersections of being and becoming on the haunted journey to belonging. The relational ontology of
cieng provides an additional way of understanding belonging, becoming and being as always relational.
Who are we with—and without—families? How do we relate as children to our parents, as parents to our children? How are parent-child relationships—and familial relationships in general—made and (not) maintained?
Informed by narrative, performance studies, poststructuralism, critical theory, and queer theory, contributors to this collection use autoethnography—a method that uses the personal to examine the cultural—to interrogate these questions. The essays write about/around issues of interpersonal distance and closeness, gratitude and disdain, courage and fear, doubt and certainty, openness and secrecy, remembering and forgetting, accountability and forgiveness, life and death.
Throughout, family relationships are framed as relationships that inspire and inform, bind and scar—relationships replete with presence and absence, love and loss. An essential text for anyone interested in autoethnography, personal narrative, identity, relationships, and family communication.