I have published a series of acrostic poems on the theme of Etranger (Foreigner or Stranger in French) in the book Etranger, by photographer Géraldine Aresteanu. The poems explore what happens when things from our research speak to our own wounds. They were born out of my own experience as an illegalised sans-papiers in France, and blend elements from theories of securitisation and alienation with painful lived experiences and Buddhist philosophy. I performed these poems in English and French at the Ethnographic Salon organised at the EASA 2022 conference in Belfast under the title Etranger est le nom d'une frontière (Stranger is the name of a border), as an act of healing. I alternated readings from French, the original language in which I wrote the poems and which resonates with my painful lived experiences, with English translations that perform a distance from pain and thus allow for the intellectualisation of trauma. In doing so, I explored the space between the mind and the heart, which we tend to see as different spheres, and strived for their blending, conceptualised through the Buddhist concept of the mind-heart. Blending the mind with the heart is the equivalent of blending the self with the other, erasing foreignness itself.
Your security, our territories
This upcoming poem is part of the special section 'Lived and Imagined Securities through Poetry' to be published in Critical Studies on Security, curated by J. C. D. Calderón and Ahmad Qais Munhazim. It was inspired by a photograph I took in Rome in 2016, while conducting fieldwork on the securitization of Roma migrants in the Italian capital. Written on a paper banner and glued to the wall, the slogan reads: “Your security terrorizes, annihilates, divides. Let us build territories of solidarity!”. The paper banner disappeared soon after, conveying the fleetingness of moments of resistance to the current security-saturated discourses that build boundaries and walls. The poem, however, stands witness to how fleeting moments of resistance can transform into more durable acts.