Europe occidentale has been the theater of a massive exodus of people following the conflicts that erupted in Maghreb (Libye, Tunisie) and the Middle East (Syrie et Irak). Waves of migrants have crossed Turkey and Eastern Europe in search of the promised land, l’Europe. Many have ended up in France applying for asylum. In the countries located south and east de la Méditerranée, many of us think of France as an ideal world, a sort of a sacred land where people ruined by wars and misery journey to find peace at last and regain faith in life. It is perceived to be a refuge where unfortunate people from all over the developing world take shelter and enjoy at last “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.”
In the Arab world, thousands and thousands of us try to reach this promised land each year. We try to set foot there either legally, through the magic door we call a visa, or by irregular means: through smugglers, land borders, clandestine boats, etc. When we finally land in France, many of us are disheartened: All there is pour les immigrants is a life full of uncertainty and questioning.
The security issues, les tensions, the rise of nationalism, the flow de réfugiés and soaring unemployment bode nothing but trouble for newcomers. Immigrating to Europe in this unsure status quo is like crossing seas with a makeshift boat. If we do not have enough energy to swim against all the tides in our way, we drown!
When we land in France, les obstacles that stand in our way are légion, and the first one is … not the customs barrier, but la barrière de la langue.
If we do not know le français, or know just a little, we are not going to catch up to this TGV train that is la société française. We need to speak decent French if we are to work, study, integrate and move across the country. English is not widely used by la population locale. We must greet people not in Arabic with Assalamu alaykoum (hello) but with a “Bonjour” articulated with a correct French R.
And then there is your address. If it is in one of the banlieues françaises immigrées (suburbs), like those of the 93rd department, and if you have a name like Mohammed, Abdallah, etc. that denotes your background. If this is the case, your integration into la société locale, as the benevolent immigrant you are, is definitely undermined.
L’environnement general is fairly hostile. La situation actuelle does not support immigration at all. L’atmosphère is tense and les immigrants are used as a scapegoat for all sorts of ills that native residents are facing. We are bombarded daily by bewildering news that saps morale. Subjects discussed relentlessly in les médias français include: waves of réfugiés from the Middle East, attacks terroristes, a state of emergency, closing borders, etc. Furthermore, des mouvements nationalists like le Front National pretending to be the voice of the peuple and population “officielle” are vocal in every election and polemically preach the necessity of repelling these “alien invaders.” Le spectre de l’islamisation is raised ad nauseam in public debates, with reference to sharia (Islamic law), burqas and halal food. No one knows what the future will bring.
When we are an asylum seeker in France, we are trapped; we have to wait years and years to apply for the great “Carte de résidence.” Negotiating les autorités administratives is a real obstacle course. As a “sans-papiers” (undocumented) person we must ask relatives and friends now and then for shelter, money and services; we have to flee the police and authorities every day, live an insecure and meaningless life. We may end up working on the black market, in the shadow of la société “officielle,” fearing constantly to be ushered out of the country. All we do is survive.
If we are un immigrant légal, the situation is not enviable. We have to constantly renew all kinds of papers (administratif, work, insurance, taxes, etc.) to preserve our “official” status. We are overwhelmed by the load of formalities to be completed. We are in the same boat.
Economically, all of us are in a precarious situation; getting a job may prove to be a real nightmare due to the ongoing difficulties économiques in Europe. If we are lucky enough to find one, we are given a position as a security guard, a supermarket cashier, a public worker, etc. Only a few obtain higher positions in a university or a ministry or the like.
As for housing, this is nothing to laugh about. Rent prices cost an arm and a leg in France. All we can rent is an HLM (low-cost housing) or a studio apartment located in une banlieue d’immigrés outside the big cities. Actually, a foreigner who earns small amounts of money, who has to pay for food, medicines, transportation, etc. cannot support himself properly when rent is to be paid at the end of the month.
If we cast anchor in the “Hexagon” forever because we have been granted citizenship, we are not off the hook yet; besides economic problems, we have to struggle amidst un océan de questions culturelles.
Many of us desire to teach our native language, traditions and religion to our progeny in order to preserve the fading memory and customs we have brought from the homeland. However, when living in this société diverse that exists in Europe, a lot gets between you and your resolutions: the way of life, the cultural values, the political system, the ideology, etc.
Par exemple, few Muslims in France celebrate Eid al-Adha (Sacrifice Feast), which is the most holy festival pour les musulmans. In fact, les autorités locales have strict regulations for sacrificing animals (sheep). Consequently, children with an immigrant background miss a very fundamental element of their parent’s culture.
Le problème is, in this quickly changing world, if we do not know where we came from and who we are, we are a boat drifting in an ocean of uncertainty. We are headed wherever the tides carry us. We are everybody and at the same time nobody.
|Le Mont Saint Michel, France – Chapel|
When all the doors are closed in front of us, many of us face a dilemma: go back home or stay aboard forever. Some return. Others go back and forth endlessly between their country de residence and their pays d’origine, to see their famille, attend a wedding, a funérailles, etc. Some stay. But in part the outcome is the same in each case. If we decide to stay, we are overwhelmed by la frustration et la nostalgie in a foreign country where there are only promises and illusions. If we choose to rejoin the homeland, there is nothing but a desert of unemployment and poverty. One way or the other, the road for immigrants leads to uncertainty.
Photo 1: Paris, France – The Louvre – Songquan Deng
Photo 2: Strasbourg, France – Dead body protest – Hadrian
Photo 3: Marseille, France – Waiting at the bus stop – Travelview
Photo 4: Strasbourg, France – Advocating assistance – Hadrian
Photo 5: La Rochelle, France – On the edge – kipgodi
Photo 6: Strasbourg, France – Freedom of movement – Hadrian
Photo 7: Marseille, France – At the Old Port of Marseille – velirina
Photo 8: Le Mont Saint Michel, France – Chapel – vvoevale
Real: Postcard emblems in The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed and The Anthology of Global Instability Transposed on display at 1080
Social: Cinemblem (cine emblem) at www.facebook.com/Perypatetik
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed
Cordido, Veronica. The Crib of Uncertainty – Venezuela. January 2018.
Lozano, Gabriela. El cuchillo de la incertidumbre : Piercing Uncertainty – México. January 2018.
Samir, Ahmed. Uncertainty in Personal Life. January 2018.
Quintero, Jonay. The Fear of Not Knowing – España. January 2018.
Translators and writers in Cuba, Uruguay, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, Cuba, Paraguay, Argentina, Germany, Romania, Spain, America, Britain, and more…
The Anthology of Global Instability Transposed
Bahras. Unstable Air Pollution – Unstable Solutions: Mongolia. June 2017.
Bichen, Svetlana Novoselova. Mental and Cultural Instability: Russia and Turkey. February 2017.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. Hybrid War: Ukraine. December 2018.
Borghi, Silvana Renée. Living in Inestabilidad. September 2017.
Caetano, Raphael. Instabilidade emocional: Brazil. February 2017.
Çakır, Peren. On the Road in Search of Stability: Argentina and Turkey. June 2017.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero. Emotional Estabilidad: The Key To a Happy Life – Cuba. December 2017.
Charles-Dee. Social Onstabiliteit – South Africa. December 2017.
Cordido, Verónica. Instability, a Stable Reality: Venezuela and America. April 2017.
Dastan, S.A. The Stability of Instability: Turkey and Syria. March 2017.
D’Adam, Anton. Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America: El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny. January 2017.
Delibasheva, Emilia. Political Instability: Electoral Coups in America and Bulgaria. December 2016.
Ellie. Angry Folk: Korea. June 2017.
Farid, Isis Kamal. Stability Is Not An Option – Egypt. August 2017.
Friedrich, Angelika. Introduction: The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.
Fondevik, Vigdis. Unstable Nature: Norway and Denmark. October 2016.
Ghadir, Younes. Political Instability – Lebanon. September 2017.
Gómez, Javier. The Way of No Way – Argentina and the UK. December 2017.
Gotera, Jay R. In Flux Amid Rising Local and Regional Tensions – Philippines. November 2017.
Guillot, Iulianna. Starting and Staying in Instability – Moldova. October 2017.
Gjuzelov, Zoran. The Нестабилност of Transition – Macedonia. November 2017.
Halimi, Sophia. Modern Instabilité: Youth and Employment in France and China. March 2017.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Embracing Instability – Spain. February 2017.
Kelvin, Sera. The Stability in Expecting Emotional Instability: Brazil. April 2017.
Konbaz, Rahaf. The Castaways: On the Verge of Life – Syria. August 2017.
Korneeva, Ekaterina. Instability… or Flexibility? July 2017.
Kreutzer, Karina. Hidden Instabilität – Ecuador and Switzerland. December 2017.
Krnceska, Sofija. Decades of Economic Instability – Macedonia. September 2017.
Kutscher, Karin. Inestabilidad in Interpersonal Relationships – Chile. October 2017.
Larousse, Annabelle. Legal and Emotional Instability in a Transgender Life – Ireland. August 2017.
Larrosa, Mariela. The Very Stable Spanish Instability. April 2017.
Lobos, José. Political Instability: Guatemala. May 2017.
Lozano, Gabriela. Estructuras Inestables: Vignettes of a Contemporary, Not Quite Collapsing Country – Mexico. November 2017.
MacSweeny, Michael. A House on a Hill – America. October 2017.
Mankevich, Tatiana. The Absence of Linguistic Cтабiльнасць: Does the Belarusian Language Have a Future? December 2016.
McGuiness, Matthew. Loving Lady Instability. November 2017.
Meschi, Isabelle. Linguistic Instabilité and Instabilità: France and Italy. November 2016.
Mitra, Ashutosh. The Instability of Change: India. January 2016.
Moussly, Sahar. The Instability of Tyranny: Syria and the Syrian Diaspora. December 2016.
Nastou, Eliza. Psychological Αστάθεια and Inestabilidad during the Economic Crisis: Greece and Spain. December 2016.
Nevosadova, Jirina. Whatever Happens, It Is Experience. May 2017.
Olisthoughts. Stable Instability – Moldova. October 2017.
Partykowska, Natalia. Niestabilność and адсутнасць стабільнасці in the Arts: Polish and Belarusian Theater. January 2017.
Payan, Rodrigo Arenas. Impotence – Venezuela and Columbia. September 2017.
Persio, P.L.F. Social Instabilità and Instabiliteit: Italy and the Netherlands. November 2016.
Pranevich, Liubou. Cultural Instability: Belarus and Poland. March 2017.
Protić, Aleksandar. Demographic Instability: Serbia. July 2017.
Romano, Mavi. Unstable Identities: Ecuador and Europe. October 2016.
Sekulić, Jelena. Нестабилност/Nestabilnost in Language – Serbia. August 2017.
Sepa, Andreea. Instabilitate vs. Stabilität: How Important Are Cultural Differences? – Romania and Germany. September 2017.
Shunit. Economic Instability: Guinea and Gambia. April 2017.
Shalunova, Marina. Language Instability: Russia. June 2017
Sitorus, Rina. Instabilitas Toleransi: Indonesia. May 2017.
Skrypka, Vladyslav. National нестійкість: Ukraine. July 2017.
Staniulis, Justas. Nestabilumas of Gediminas Hill and the Threat to the Symbol of the State: Lithuania. July 2017.
Sousa, Antonia. Social and Economic Instabilidade: Portugal. January 2017.
Vuka. My Intimate Imbalanced Inclination. March 2017.
Walton, Éva. Historical and Psychological Bizonytalanság within Hungarian Culture. January 2017.
Yücel, Sabahattin. The Instability of Turkish Education and its Effect on Culture and Language: Turkey. July 2017.
Zadrożna-Nowak, Amelia. Economic Instability: Poles at Home and the Polish Diaspora. November 2016.
Zakharova, Anastasiya. Instability in Relationships: Russia. April 2017.