Reflective Confrontation by Zainab Aliyu
Zainab Aliyu, 22
About the piece:
The idea of diaspora has developed significantly in scholastic environments to build upon a relevant framework of understanding a certain type of migration. After an influential dissertation in 1939 by E. Franklin Frazier on how Africans had adapted to their new environment in the Americas, as well as a study in 1941 by Melville Herskovits on how Africans maintained their cultural heritage while developing a feeling of community in the Americas, other scholars have concentrated on the manifestations of “the African Diaspora,” which has been typically conceptualized to ultimately be based upon a shared Black identity created through processes of racialization on a worldwide scale. Regardless of their differing backgrounds, locations and contributions, members of a diaspora generally share an emotional attachment to their hereditary land and connection with one another; face similar difficulties in constructing and developing themselves; are aware of their dispersal and, if conditions allow, of their oppression and estrangement in the nations in which they live.
Attempts have been made for immigrants to stay connected with their native countries while living abroad. For instance, some developing countries have become more invested in giving dual citizenship to the children or grandchildren of migrants, so as to strengthen their ties to their roots. Unfortunately, this does not totally lessen the loss of identity and separation that individuals of a diaspora may feel from their nations of origin.
With this project, I use myself as the subject matter to explore the friction between dislocation and descent that leads to a dilemma of social and cultural identity. Generally, children of African immigrants who were born in a host society or have lived the majority of their life in a host society, have a tendency to emphasize the host society part of their identity over their African origin, while still feeling attached to their roots. Regarding the reshaping of identities, the diaspora experience tends to give birth to individuals who feel uprooted and not genuinely secured to one specific culture. Ultimately for me, this has led to an unwavering sense of vulnerability within multiple aspects of my life.
“Reflective Confrontation” creates a catalog of my diaspora experience through a series of selected thoughts, musings and observations where I aim to represent vulnerability as a tangible emotion.
About the artist:
Zainab Aliyu is a Nigerian-American interaction and visual designer who sees every human interaction as an experience that deserves attention and thoughtfully intentional design. Her work explores intersections of identity and vulnerability through an eclectic range of mediums. Ultimately, she hopes to leverage the human side of technology to advance the ways in which we connect with one another by designing resonant experiences that encourage thoughtful interaction and inspire reflection, consideration, and conversation.