The interview took place at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland, the place where the Indian native became a U.S. citizen six years ago. She spoke about language and identity, and family and home. She also shared an original poem.
Dutt-Ballerstadt, who wrote The Postcolonial Citizen: The Intellectual Migrant, says that moving from one country to another complicates one’s sense of home.
“Millions of people leave home to come to a country that doesn’t really accept them, but find that going back home is no longer really possible,” she says. “When they visit, they almost speak a different language, and translating experiences is difficult.
“So much of our human condition rests in knowing that there is a place we can identify with and belong to,” she says. “The longer we belong to these places, the more we develop a sense of familiarity that anchors who we are. For immigrants, that anchor is always moving. You belong neither here nor there, but in an in-between place.”
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt writes and publishes on the topic of migrants, exile and dislocation.