Belonging and transgression: the intuition at the core of this volume that these two concepts in some sense belong together seems particularly opportune today. The current moment of historical change at which the Western world – and Europe in particular – finds itself is driven not only by external challenges to its borders and structures (migratory movements, globalisation, etc.) but also from ‘within’ by a crisis of belonging developing largely, though not uniquely, in response to these. What it means to belong is manifestly very much a live issue, at a number of different levels. First, ‘belongings’ in the sense of possessions raises the question of property and ownership, and thus of rights. When something that used to belong to us is felt no longer to do so, or when someone felt not to belong crosses a boundary (the standard dictionary definition of ‘transgression’), the shift in the border between ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’, between ‘ours’ and ‘yours’, is often experienced not just as a loss but as a theft, the infringement of a right. Second, an uncertainty about what we belong to is arguably even more destabilising than one concerning what belongs to us. It would be hard to exaggerate the importance played by ‘belonging’, in the meaning of feeling part of a greater whole, a shared togetherness, in the constitution of one’s sense of identity.

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DOI: 10.14324/111.2057-2212.074

How to Cite

Hanrahan, M., (2017) “Preface”, Tropos 4(1).







Mairéad Hanrahan (Professor of French, UCL, UK)




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