The becoming of an Other

I have tried for a while to give words to how I identify myself after having spent last 7 years in France. Can I put myself in any national category? Am I Indian? Am I Parisian? Who am I in relation to this new space I inhabit?

As I have sought for a space to belong for the last few years, I have discovered a fascinating space – the space for the Other.

There are no set rules on what one does when one comes to this Other. One only needs to not be the natural. I have learnt to speak the new language, but there will always be something crooked about the way I place my words or the way I will smell of harissa and spices like many in the RER B train that passes vertically through the Paris region.

The Other is a place for those who cannot make any claims to being natural, either using a biological excuse (like the skin color) or a cultural excuse (like the kind of clothes one wears). The sense of natural, used often in terms like naturalised, give a scientific uniformity to what one can be so that one is natural. 

The Other is not the un-natural. It is not the opposite of natural. On the contrary, it exists because of the natural, in complement to the natural. The Other almost looks like a natural outcome of the existence of natural. 

The Other is an inclusive place created out of a grander exclusion. The inclusion into this Other is a continuous reminder that one shall never be the natural.

The Other is a dream land that lets you rebuild a home, but on the periphery of natural. You build a home in relation to the natural, in an attempt to be the natural. You buy the cheap replicas of the leather boots from the Chinese store around the corner, color your hair blonde.

Then, you go out and criticize the natural; the next day, you wake up and criticize your neighbor because you speak natural better than her. You are now integrated. You are now the naturalisé into the permanence of the Other.


About Shreya Parikh

I am Shreya. Project Rethought is my attempt to rethink my own observations as a brown woman of Indian origin. I currently live in Paris where I teach at Sciences Po Paris and Parsons Paris-The New School.
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