On Belonging

The chapter of Rebecca Saunders’ book entitled “Belonging, Distance” seems especially relevant to the latter part of Event Factory. In approaching these topics, she takes care not only to define the markers of belonging, but also to articulate what it means to not belong. In doing so, she approaches the topic of (in)dependence, as to belong is to be a constituent of a whole, albeit one that contradicts itself; “to be dependable is a virtue, while to be dependent is a vice”. However, she is quick to clarify the degrees to which one might be considered dependable: “[as] a matter of trust or loyalty…a matter of influence or logical support…of politics…or of psychological physiological reliance” (Saunders 25). Foreigners, Saunders argues, lack many of the positive aspects of dependency, while also being unable to fully rely on themselves.

The foreignness of our narrator is amplified upon her return to where her acquaintances are; they press her for information about a woman that she had met on her travels upon her return, and she refuses to provide a name and finds that “unlike Ulchi, my refusal to elaborate was met with discord. I was seeming unreliable” (Gladman 92). No matter how well she had been conforming to the cultural norms at that point, in that moment, her dependability is lost, and she is again alienated as an outsider, an asset whose potential is lost.

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