The book explores what happens to intellectuals who move from former colonized countries to the West.
“When you move from one country to another, it complicates your understanding of what home is,” Dutt-Ballerstadt said. “I wanted to express what it means to belong neither here nor there, but in an in-between space.”
The associate professor of English began research for The Postcolonial Citizen during her journey to the United States from Calcutta, India, and over the past decade, began transcribing her memories of life in both countries.
The book exposes the complexity of migration and postcolonial citizenship and draws upon Dutt-Ballerstadt’s expertise with multiple genres, including poetry, fiction, non-fiction and critical theory.
“So much of our human condition rests in knowing that there is a place that we can identify and belong to,” Dutt-Ballerstatdt said. “The longer we belong to these places, we develop a sense of familiarity that anchors who we are. As a migrant, though, that anchor is always going to be moving. That is the weight of life, I think, the heaviness of not knowing where one belongs.
“On one hand, there is lightness to knowing that not having an anchor allows freedom of movement. On the other hand, not to be rooted is to throw into question a part of yourself.”