When we came across the term Multilocal a few years ago, it really hit home. Daughters of migrant families, and being travellers working around the globe, we immediately formed a connection. Whilst having difficulty relating to one type of identity like our parents, grandparents or great grandparents, where ethnicity and social expectations are constructed by a country, being Multilocal meant that our identities are shaped by the cultures, people and the environments we experience. It all made sense!
‘All experience is local. All Identity is experience.’ Taiye Selasi helped fit the pieces of the puzzle into place that we were trying to fit all our lives. The endless awkwardness of trying to explain the answer to ‘Where are you from?’ dissolved when Selasi introduced us to the concept of being Multi-Local, which she articulates so elegantly in her Ted Talk ‘Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I am a local’ . This revolutionary and powerful connection led us to research further, and consequently start a company named Multilocal!
The more we researched the more it made sense, and the more we wanted to spread the word. The connections we make on our journey make us who we are, not the country of our passports, nor the country where our families come from. Wherever we feel local makes us who we are and this doesn’t have to be one place, it could be many.
Further on, Selasi talks about identifying a person using the ‘3 R’s – Rituals, Relationships and Restrictions’. So, if I take myself for example, (you should try this too, it’s interesting to see the results) my:
· Rituals: I meditate in the mornings. I take long walks every day. I celebrate Ramadan with my family as well as Christmas. I take Afro Brazilian dance classes from a dear friend living in Athens, I love hugging my friends with no less than two kisses on the cheeks (can’t wait to start doing this again!) and I make sure I never throw food away.
· Relationships: I’m in constant contact with my family and good friends around the globe. Relationships with my co-workers, customers, and people I see on a daily basis enrich my experiences. In a strange way, the pandemic has strengthened many of these relationships as suddenly everyone has been brought together online, whether close or afar.
· Restrictions: My passport and work may open wider opportunities but they do still hold certain restrictions. Being a single parent comes with its joys, but also restrictions, having to make daily and long-term choices accordingly.
These are experiences I have gained through my journey in the countries I’ve lived in and the people around me. Not the country my parents or I were born in, nor the passport I have, only these experiences shape my identity and make me who I am. This is my locality, where I am local is who I am.
Living in Turkey created the connection with our heritage and opened our eyes to the beauty of the crafts around us. Italy, England, France and Germany added to our rituals, and relationships. Working closely in an International environment with fantastic people taught us so much along the way, making us truly Multilocal.
As Gen Xers, we were able to witness globalisation unfolding/clearly with the increase of technology and travel, enlightening people to become more aware of cultures, and we saw the terms Third Generation Kids, Intercultural, Multicultural, Pluralistic, Diversity, Inclusion and Multilocal become more frequently used. The open mindedness and enrichment of cultures became an inspiration to many and engraved its place in our identities.
However, digging deeper, Multilocal is not a new concept. It’s something that has existed since the beginning of humankind. Cultures, ethnicities and rituals developed through Homosapiens travelling around the globe to find settlement, collecting ideologies, arts, crafts, beliefs along the way, similar to what we aim to do today.
Our strong connection to being Multilocal lead us to create our logo artwork, a mosaic of symbols that are used in Kilim rugs in Turkey representing experiences from the locals. We’ll leave the secret of our Amulet to another blog post – watch this space.
How enriching it is to be Multilocal. A multitude of experiences collected together. #wearemultilocal Come join Lale and I in manifesting and celebrating this Multilocality in each of us.