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"A perfect homeland is never available..."

Aleksandar Hemon's family are ethnic Ukrainians who at one point migrated to Vucijak, Bosnia, then to Sarajevo and, after the civil war, to Canada. Here, in a chapter titled "Homeland" from My Parents: An Introduction, he muses on his father's form of nostalgia:

Wherever he went around the world, including Canada, he spent much of his head time being in Vucijak, talking about it, comparing everything to the standards once established there; he never mythologized Sarajevo, where he lived for most of his adult life, to a comparable extent. Yet at no point in his life did he ever consider or even mention the possibility of returning to Vucijak, where after my grandparents' deaths he even inherited some land. The whole nostalgic operation is contingent precisely on his absence from Vucijak since his childhood. A perfect homeland is never available; otherwise the ideal might run into an indelible and ugly reality. Nationalists resolve this tension by way of exclusionary reshaping and violence; they strive to make the actual country fit their fantasies, for which genocide is often required. My father just tells stories with a lot of nostalgic embellishments.

If only the white nationalists currently running the United States and several major European countries had a similarly harmless means of making their countries great again...

September 16, 2019 in Books | Permalink