My name is raji kaur aujla and my name represents survival. It survived Sikh genocides. It survived what patriarchy enforced upon my gender. It survived migration and capitalism’s tight grasp on my immigrant family. It survived- meaning I’m here today when I shouldn’t have been.
Western knowledge is upheld solely through Western practices of language, thought, and reasoning. The knowledge of migrant communities, under the burden of constant negotiation, is expected to assimilate at the border crossing. They leave their stories behind on their ancestral lands, fragmenting their identity and power. The border itself- a problematic reminder of colonial occupation- signifies for a migrant both freedom and surveillance. On one hand, a migrant seeks refuge and dreams for a better future. On the other hand, there exists a bitter reality that migration itself means settling on occupied lands that belong to a subordinated subaltern. A migrant’s relationship to this land will continue to give settlers more rights than our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
As migrant knowledge becomes displaced into the margins of a new society that has concealed its true occupation- to fuel a unilateral pursuit of post-colonial, neoliberal capitalist accounts- that leaves little space for anyone whom they mark as subordinates..Indigenous or migrants…to be visible.
The hegemonic visibility of the Occident has relied upon the invisibilizing of us as the Orient in the same way that white domination has relied on the fixing of Indigenous and Black bodies. Audre Lorde’s provocation has been a metaphor for intersectional structures and systems of oppression that have othered us, erased us. “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
So what can an imagined future look like if there was genuine change?
I don’t know.
My idealist, hopeful self believes that it would include unearthing truths, allowing time for reconciliation, pausing to heal as a collective, and imagining a healthy and equitable future together.
I once read, “to be heard and to be known, we must adopt Western ways of knowledge because a subaltern people can never express their native ways of knowing, and instead, must conform their native expression of knowledge to the Western, colonial ways of knowing the world. The subordinated native can be heard by the colonizers only by speaking the language of their empire; thus, intellectual and cultural filters of conformity muddle the true voice of the subaltern native.”
I read this passage and think about what Lorde wrote once again. Visualizing narratives from those omitted is what Migrant Erasure has created space for in this new body of work.
I humbly honour and acknowledge Indigenous ingenuity and generosity that has allowed us to flee persecution back home in order to be safe in Canada. From Ibrahim Abusitta’s account of Palestinian survival guilt to Hangama Amiri’s thoughts on Taliban’s seize of Afghanistan to Manuel Mathieu’s conflict in navigating power sysems to Caroline Monnet’s account on the physical, psychological, political and social isolation of First Nation communities, I thank original caretakers of this land who have inspired us to present such honest and healing exchanges.
raji kaur aujla