I was describing my return to Lebanon to someone and the word “repatriated” came out of my mouth. It went without notice, but I was stuck on this term afterward, and it was bothering me to refer to myself this way. For one reason, it seemed too much to echo “expatriate” as well as “patriarchy”; and although Lebanon is certainly the latter, the former speaks of my “patria” as the United States; so to “repatriate” would seemingly imply a return Stateside.
A bit of searching on a seemingly equivalent term—rematriation—brought up some interesting echoes, in literature, pedagogical studies, and the like. It also seems to come up in Indigenous Peoples’ discussions; a reference to “Mother Earth” as opposed to the “Fatherland”. For just one example [link]:
if “repatriation” involves a “return of prisoners of war to their home country,” and is a term used to refer to skeletal remains and sacred ceremonial objects, what term do we use to refer to the “home countries” that are themselves, in many cases, now being “held captive” by the United States? I am referring, of course, to such culturally essential places as Mt. Graham, the Black Hills, the Wallowa Valley, Lyle Point, the lands of the Havasupai, the Western Shoshone lands, and many others. I’d like to propose “rematriation” as a useful concept.
By “rematriation” I mean “to restore a living culture to its rightful place on Mother Earth,” or “to restore a people to a spiritual way of life, in sacred relationship with their ancestral lands, without external interference.” As a concept, rematriation acknowledges that our ancestors lived in spiritual relationship with our lands for thousands of years, and that we have a sacred duty to maintain that relationship for the benefit of our future generations.
It seems to be a term that would be quite useful to include in the adoption lexicon. So much of adoption smacks of the patriarchal in terms of dominion, property, ownership, citizenship, etc. Perhaps then to speak of “repatriation” implies a “restoration of property”; to speak of “rematriation” implies a “bodily return to source”, as far as adoptees are concerned. Expanding from here, I think of mothers in Argentina demanding an accounting of what happened to their “disappeared” children; I think of women in Spain marching and protesting to find their sons and daughters who went missing; I think of the women in Guatemala who are demanding the return of their children adopted to the United States; their sisters working in that country whose children have also been taken away from them….
I’ve brought this up before [link]; perhaps I am now “musing out loud” and finetuning these thoughts….
My question: Why does it “work” in such countries (Spain, Argentina, Guatemala, etc.) that women be able to stand up for such “rematriation”? Meaning, why is motherhood in these cultures something that is less able to be “signed away”? What is it about Anglo-Saxon societies that prevents, say, legal teams working to rectify, annul, renegotiate, etc. the writs of property ownership that deny women the ability to re-establish their Motherhood? Why the emotional weight placed on things such as official “apologies” from the state, for example, as opposed to actual empowerment of women to “rematriate”? Again, and making reference to a former topic, how disempowering to women is adoption? [link]
My other question: How do you relate to the term “rematriation”? Does it hold any meaning for you?