on living in the south-eastern corner of The West

Christmas is coming; which, in Australia, means summer holidays, sunscreen, bushfires, and barbeques. My husband’s work Christmas Party is in a few days time and it marks the beginning of a party season that will keep going until mid-January when people start having to head back to work after Christmas and New Year. If you are reading this from the North Atlantic you have good reason to be jealous.

Sun hats and deck chairs: Christmas 2012

Sun hats and deck chairs: Christmas 2012

I have also been communicating with some colleagues in the UK about visiting next year and the mismatch of summer holidays and semester schedules makes things a little bit awkward.

And then I excitedly opened up a book recommended by someone I trust and read this:

“Indeed, the place we most often call the West is best called the North Atlantic — not only for the sake of geographical precision but also because such usage frees us to emphasize that “the West” is always a fiction, an exercise in global legitimation”
Michel-Rolph Trouillot Global Transformations (2003), p1

These little moments create a friction.

I think Trouillot is right to point out that ‘the West’ is a fiction. And to his credit, he does say that the North Atlantic is what we ‘most often’ mean when we use the term. But these little moments shape those of us who live a little bit more to the the south and east of Trouillot’s North Atlantic West. They are a gentle reminder of the tension in Australia (and New Zealand, and other places besides) between the centrality of the ‘fiction’ of the West to our identity and the simultaneous physical, seasonal, and calendrical distance we experience from the rest of the West.

We are set apart.


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