Trafficking in Ideas: Ali Eteraz on multiple migrations

December 17th, 2010

Ali Eteraz, US lawyer, writer and global nomad, traces his personal journey from a madrassa in Pakistan, to the contrasting (and similar) realities of the US Bible Belt before moving on to post 9-11 New York and a newly-minted, not quite multicultural Europe. His stories address the identity and cultural conflicts he faced along the way with humour and insight.

Last October, Eteraz, award winning  author of “Children of Dust, joined us as a featured speaker at the 2010 Cities of Migration Conference to talk about his experience in “trafficking in stories” – particularly those that reflect the increasingly complex and shifting nature of multiple migrations.

In his talk, he crisscrosses the globe, artfully describing how the mash-up of  traveling ideas (and people) are changing communities and cultures.

You will enjoy the wry insights of a man who can describe his mother as “a Punjabi born Pakistani,  a woman whose first languages are Punjabi and Urdu and now works teaching Hispanic children US English…in Spanish.”

Ali uses a writer’s perspective to show us how race and identity are fluid and changeable. Like language, music and even faith, they are richly ornamented and informed by diverse cultural influences and history.

He wisely reminds us that it is the narrative that is transformative.  How we tell our stories of migration can make a difference. The story itself may resist being pigeonholed and, like everyday life, stay fluid, possibly messy and usually deeply personal.

Listen to Ali Eteraz speaking at the 2010 Cities of Migration Conference, here.

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