Book captures intellectuals’ journeys
A Linfield English professor published a book after more than a decade of writing.
What started out as Associate Professor of English Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt’s graduate work is now “The Postcolonial Citizen: The Intellectual Migrant.” The book sheds light on those individuals who begin in one country but then switch citizenship to another. These citizens came to English-speaking countries to further their academics, which changed what it meant for them to belong.
Dutt-Ballerstadt wrote in her book that when a citizen of one country moves to another, the idea of what “home” is gets compromised.
She asks, “There is the question of home. Are we from here or there?” These citizens grew up in one culture, but then studied in another, which brought a sense of disconnectedness.
Dutt-Ballerstadt said the feeling of not belonging arose when she went home and was treated differently.
“Maybe I’m more hypersensitive to treatment that marks me as an outsider,” she said. “The intellectual migrants are from an in-between place.”
Along with the sense of not belonging anywhere, intellectual migrants were looked at in a suspicious light, she said.
Dutt-Ballerstadt discussed in her book what it was like to be an intellectual migrant after the events of 9/11. She says that before 9/11, “intellectual migrants enabled the country. They were an advantage for the country.” After, though, “intellectual migrants were thought of as dangerous. They became suspects.”
The book incorporates her own experiences, and Dutt-Ballerstadt said she used different genres. The book uses experiences, nonfiction, poetry and other styles as well.
“Using different genres is like using different languages,” she said.
Intellectual migrants are accustomed to speaking different languages, so this book speaks specifically to that group.
“Her experiences give her good insights into the trans-Atlantic literature we read for her class,” freshman Kelsey Hatley said. “I definitely think that I would not get the same experience with another professor.”
Dutt-Ballerstadt’s experiences also give her an effective teaching style. She took her experiences and understandings and used them to better teach her students. These same experiences have also helped her finish a book that helps others realize what intellectual migrants go through in their transition years.
“She’s really funny and tells quirky stories,” Hatley said. “Her class is more like a room for discussion rather than just lecture.”
“The Postcolonial Citizen: The Intellectual Migrant” is on sale now and is also available in Nicholson Library.
Diantha Beckham can be reached at email@example.com