Exile: Originating from the Middle English word exil (1250-1300), exile refers to either a self-imposed or enforced absence from one’s native or home country. In addition, there is a difference between exiles and voluntary migrants. Exiles will feel like they still belong to their homeland, although in reality, don’t. Migrants on the other hand, will lose that sense of belonging. Another form of exile is through colonization, when native land has not been lost, but the culture has been.
Example: Jamaica Kincaid, the author of A Small Place, was born in Antigua in the Caribbean in 1949. She went to New York in 1965 as a young woman to find work as an au pair. She had gone through the British education system in Antigua before she left, and once in the United States became a writer of The New Yorker. In this way, she physically exiled herself from her home island of Antigua. While Kincaid was still in her homeland was, to a degree, exiled due to colonization. For example, the loss of her culture through the British schooling system.
Kincaid describes the tourist as “an ugly human being” (14) and she continues to describe natives of the world. She says, “they are too poor to escape the reality of their lives; and they are too poor to live properly in the place where they live, which is the very place you, the tourist, want to go” (19). But, Kincaid, a native of Antigua did leave, and if she returned to her homeland now would be considered a tourist. Based on this fact, her descriptions of the hardships Antiguans face today, and have faced in the past, are from an outsider’s perspective, an exiled perspective. She still has a sense of belonging to Antigua, when in fact lived there for only 16 years.
Kincaid, Jamaica. A small place . New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1988.
“Exile.” Dictionary.com. Web. 06 March 2011.
“Exile.” Free Online Dictionary. Web. 06 March 2011.
“Exile.” Postcolonialweb.org. Web. 07 March 2011.