01111'1.01'111 Of 'IR&.11
An Introduction
Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there ... No. Should we have stayed at
home, wherever that may be?
- Elizabeth Bishop
1
Home or away, "the choice is never wide and never free." In this book,
I inquire into categories that are so often taken for granted, asking
how and when notions of home and away, placement and displace-
ment, dwelling and travel, location and dislocation, come to play a
role in contemporary literary and cultural criticism in Europe and the
United States. The prevalence of metaphors of travel and displace-
ment in this body of critical work suggests that the modern era is
fascinated by the experience of distance and estrangement, reproduc-
ing these notions through articulations of subjectivity and poetics. Yet
displacement is not universally available or desirable for many sub-
jects, nor is it evenly experienced.
The historical phenomenon of modern imperialism in the con-
text of European and U.S. industrialization, the economic and cul-
tural annexation of regions into a "Third World" and subsequent de-
colonizations, as well as the shifts and destabilizations engendered by
the deindustrialization of the so-called First World all propose dis-
tinct and varied questions for travel. In this book I will argue that
the terms of displacement found in Euro-American critical practice
rarely admit to these material conditions. Although modern imperial-
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