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A little red robin just whistled outside the bedroom window. My son takes his midday nap in my lap this summer. For a long time now, he has let us know that midday laps are a waste of time, and the only way to get him to sleep is to make the environment as boring, but cosy as possible. I bunk up with a cup of tea and a novel or a pencil and paper, and for an hour or so I can slouch peacefully in the bedroom in the middle of the day.
In the summer cabin, the bedroom window faces a steep rocky hill full of different trees, flowers, roses, green leaves, moss, forest berries, squirrels and the odd bird, like this red robin. In the distance, I can hear the waves, the sound of the engine from a boat, or sometimes the rain tapping on the roof.
Before this little pause, I had two hours off from family life where I sat by myself and watched the sea and sky as I composed an outline for my paper on narration and migration in Linköping. I translated a poem by Ucoc Lai about the particular moment when he left Vietnam for France where he after four years of waiting had been granted status as a political refugee from Cambodia. I will also translate a beautiful, lyrical text by Souleymane Diamanka about the nomadic Fulani’s voyage up north to France, and their life “under the baobabs of beton” in the Bordeauxan suburbs, called Fulani Winter. I will argue something like that through writing their histories into the history of France, without severing the ties with other parts of the world, they weave the histories together. Like that, their stories and experiences contribute to a more inclusive, open and wider understanding of what France is… something like that.
With little Leo in my nap, I continued working, finishing the outline of the narratives of nation-paper, and an abstract to a conference in Sicily on borders. I want to talk about the internal borders created by a nation’s imagery. In have in mind particularly how action/interaction and environment shape each other in relation to these internal borders between what is French and what is not. The lines of inclusion and exclusion function differently in different parts of the city, in different urban spaces, I think the idea is. And these lines are constructed completely differently in the open and inclusive, however very “French”, space that is created during slam sessions in east Paris. I don’t know if my paper will be accepted as the conference seems to focus on eastern Europe, but I very much want to go to Sicily in the end of January, to tell the truth, and the venue for the conference, an old monastery in the second largest city in Sicily, seems fantastic… And, well, my material would surely benefit from being studied from such a perspective on internal borders.
And what I think about once in a while when I stop scribbling on my sheets of paper, is that sometimes life feels in complete balance. I don’t feel torn between academia and family life, far from it. The two, equally all-absorbing and rewording in their own but very different rights, usually complement each other perfectly. I didn’t expect that, but that’s really how I feel.
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