Who are you? And the far reaches of globalization

I recently gave a talk at the Chekhov Cultural Center here in Moscow, as part of English Language Evenings (thanks so much to the organizer, Stephen Lapeyrose, and all of the wonderful people who attended), and before the talk, I had to clarify something on my resume. I had to explain that a certain job meant work experience in two cities simultaneously – “the magazine was produced in Amman,” I said, “but it was meant for the market in Dubai. I’d just moved from Dubai and was working on it in Amman.”

During the question-and-answer portion of my talk, someone asked me which language I speak better, English or Russian. I said that I speak English better – though I’ve been catching up on my Russian since moving to Moscow, and eventually hope for my knowledge in both languages to be pretty much even.

The dreaded “who are you?” question was, thankfully, not asked. I identify as lots of things, after all. Sometimes, it confuses people. It even irritates them. They think my Whitman-esque desire to “contain multitudes” is a sign of “disloyalty,” or, worse yet, some sort of indifference to my roots. But my roots, both genetic and cultural, spiritual and intellectual, grow from all sorts of places. This isn’t rare. This isn’t weird.

“How do you figure fromness?” Chally recently asked on Feministe. The important thing is not letting anyone else decide the answer for you. It’s the same as trying to determine your work experience in a globalized job market, really – just on a more personal scale.

4 thoughts on “Who are you? And the far reaches of globalization

  1. As a Pisces I hate being forced to define myself by a series of neat labels, and wherever possible I make a point of NOT pandering to some little bureaucrat’s obsession with political correctness by ticking their stupid little boxes. The only thing employers or universities need to know about me is that I require a disabled parking space, a disabled toilet and that’s it.

    We have a census coming up soon in England and the forms were sent out this week.

    The census is compulsory and I get really pissy when I am forced to constrain myself in that manner. Unfortunately ‘none of your frackin’ business’ is not an option on the form and could land me with a hefty fine 😛

  2. “As a Pisces I hate being forced to define myself by a series of neat labels” – whether or not the irony is intentional, it’s pretty great

    As is the post!

  3. Hi! I stumbled across this blog looking at Chekhov and depression (I’m not depressed) and I just had to comment! I’ve lived in Russia, in Moscow, for two and a half years because of my dad’s work. I am an actress, so I clearly (maybe not clearly, but I do) love Chekhov! I read your article entitled “Depression: at the Black Gate with Anton Chekhov and Leroy Jenkins” from 2009 and I LOVED it! It was obviously very well-written – that goes without saying – but what I really liked about it was that you, in my opinion, really captured Chekhov’s approach to tragedy and depression in his work. Because while you talked about dark things, that really affect everyone, it was really hilarious because you were able to point out the truth and the humor in people’s self-pity. But not in a malicious way at all. And I think that’s what Chekhov. He wrote about the tragic reality, but in such a way that people couldn’t help but laugh in spite of themselves. I think it’s a very fine line that I honestly feel is crossed far too often in American productions of Chekhov. The one production that I can think that DIDN’T cross that line was actually a movie (Henry’s Crime) but it just had the play Cherry Orchard in it and was based around that theme. Anyway, I got excited when I read your article on Chekhov and depression, because I was thinking about those things after watching that movie, and then I saw that you live in Moscow! And I also completely relate to the “who/what are you?” question because I’ve grown up in several different countries and with several cultural influences so I don’t feel like me roots are in any one place, either.

  4. Yeah – painfully earnest stagings of Chekhov usually just kill the material, don’t they? Chekhov wrote a lot about human suffering, but the man had a sense of humour to go with that!

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