This was first posted on my blog on the 2nd November 2002 and is extracted from the archive. I thought it deserved another outing:
The concept of inexclusion keeps coming at me. The term was coined by Sanjoy Roy to describe the sense of being inside and outside at the same time, with particular reference to non-whites who have been subjected to the mapping of a white cultural identity.
A similar experience is described by second and third generation British Asians, who feel inexcluded by both the British and their parents or grandparents country of origin.
But it works the other way around, as was discovered by those white Britons who returned to the mother country after spending their working lives in the colonies.
Milan Kundera‘s novel, Ignorance, explores the experience of two Czechs who arrive back in Prague after an absence of twenty years. Their dilemma is portrayed as a problem of memory, but there is little doubt that these fictional characters are also experiencing this same sense of inexclusion.
There is also the experience of genre writers’ who are connected to and nourished by the literature of their mother tongue but whose writing is often undervalued by the snobbery and elitism of the literary establishment.
Inexclusion is, in fact, one of the salient and important experiences of the post-modern condition. There is no way we can go back home. Apart from the one in our memory or in our fancy, there is no home to return to.