To think of the nation as something that is always moving. I imagined the movement of a nation as the sea that pushes itself against and away the coast of an island. Aruba in this case. I imagined this as I was part of the audience during a viewing of young Caribbean filmmakers. The storytellers behind the films of that evening had recently graduated different art schools in the Netherlands. There were three films and although they were extremely different they all had a common theme on the backend: migration. As I like to play with the idea of people as essentially migrants (since we are in constant movement), I realized that nationstates —and particularly islands— are also constantly moving.
In the filmtheatre we looked onto the Caribbean sea over the shoulders of two teenage girls who had just graduated secondary school on Aruba. Pariba, by Aramis Garcia Gonzales (2019) shows two best friends. One moved to Holland for her studies. One stayed behind. Both suffered from the terrible heartbreak that is bestfriendforever- separation. They did their best staying in contact over the phone while they conversed about their fears, challenges and disappointments of their new lives. It turned out to be incredibly challenging to adjust to life in Holland. They longed back to better times where they would cruise the island in daddy’s car during carnaval season, enjoying taco Bell and some gossip. Their lives became much more complicated once separated from each other.
The second film by Mario Michael Gonsalves, Patroon (2019), is a critique of the type of nation where some would belong less than others, no matter how hard they would try. The film showcases frustration of young men of light and dark brown skins, congregating on the rooftops of industrial buildings. The camera implied a diagonal perspective in constant movement, asking the viewer to re-examine their perception of society, but never standing still in doing so. These men were children of parents who migrated in search of securities. Not exclusively pessimistic the film speaks a visual language in which these young men do thrive in the type of nation that is creative, persistent and of Vertovec’s superdiversity [i].
It is in many ways a different nation than the Holland that was portrayed in the third film Tom Adelaar (2018), directed by Gonzalo Fernandez. Adelaar’s Holland is one of upward mobility, code-switching and juxtapositions between Dutch and Caribbean Dutch. The protagonists’ brother moves back and forth between Paramaribo and Amsterdam and Adelaar moves back and forth between two versions of himself.
The exchange between places, self and the creativity that informs this movement is what makes me think of the nation as a forever migrant. If we dare to think of the nation as an everchanging movement, what might be the sound of a future anthem?
[i] Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and racial studies, 30(6), 1024-1054.
A version of this post was previously featured in the november 2019 issue of the newsletter of the Caribbean Studies Association.