As I mentioned in my last post, creating this post was a triple-flip if I ever saw one. I was going all over the place and just couldn’t organize my thoughts the way I wanted to. So, after being required to record my voice for another class (I KNOW I’m not the only one that dislikes the sound of my own voice, so I know that others can agree that recording one’s own voice brings up many thoughts and feelings of self-reflection and conscripted performance…), I decided to do the same for this post. Attached is a Google Drive link for an audio clip (it’s 14 minutes long so I’d understand anyone who skipped listening or put it on while doing something else) of me describing the complexities of being “born and raised” in the United Arab Emirates. It serves as a response to/continuation of Katie’s “Born and Raised” post, which deconstructs the pride and criticism surrounding individuals who stay in their hometowns.
Later I might try to provide a transcript of this audio, especially if requested to do so by Beth or someone else (…Beth or anyone else, please let me know sooner rather than later if a transcript is needed/wanted).
Multimedia mentioned in audio (linked rather than embedded because of school network issues):
- Figure one: Geographic context of Al Ain
- Figure two: population graph of UAE (with interactive sliding bar)
- Population breakdown of UAE
- New Yorker article: “The stories about Abu Dhabi that are rarely told”
- Where are they now? My map of my former classmates
I forgot to explain in the audio something kind of big, the reason for why I didn’t personally relate to being “born and raised” in one place despite living in the same place for 15 years total. This is because we spent summers (25% of each year) in western New York, and we lived in western New York from 2012-2014. But, overall, Al Ain was (is?) my hometown. So I decided to make a hometown map inspired by the conventions in Jack’s cemetery map. You can access it here. This map designates personal landmarks of Al Ain, such as recreation, restaurants, and where I’ve lived and gone to school. I decided to include restaurants because memories of food are sometimes more outstanding than other types of memories. This includes physical qualities like flavors, smells, and textures; and more abstract associations like community, cultures, friends, and families.
I will note that I’d recommend this map-making exercise to anyone in the class, no matter where you were “born and raised,” or even if you chose to depict another personally significant region. Because I wasn’t good at navigating, never had my license, and rarely used public transport, going from place to place in Al Ain felt kind of spatially random or disconnected. So it was really striking to plot points, and see my expectations of spatial relationships be both supported and refuted. Making the map was rewarding for two other reasons. Firstly, I noticed a theme of memory/forgetting as I scrolled, zoomed, and searched; re-discovering forgotten places from my childhood or even more recent times. But there was also the theme of development; many places I could tell had been established since I left three years ago. In the audio, when I talked about the rapid physical expansion of the UAE, I was assuming that was mostly true of Dubai (making the same assumptions that I criticized), but the same seems to be very true of Al Ain too. Overall, the map is by no means exhaustive, and I hope to go back and add more. But as Jack said, sometimes you just have to move on and publish.
To conclude, now that I’m done this post still feels extremely all over the place, but it feels really good to get it out, and to document thoughts and experiences that have literally been brewing for a lifetime.