Britney Spears, Transnationalism, and the Great Country of Morocco

Leah Siegel

Britney Spears once penned, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.”  She then proceeded to put these words into song, and then had this song featured in her 2002 sort-of-smash hit Crossroads (also starring a pre-Avatar Zoe Saldana).  Well said, Ms. Spears, well said.

The beauty of Britney’s lyrics lie in the simple presentation of something with which most of us are familiar: transition, change, and instability. The three young female leads of Crossroads had reached a pivotal point in their lives: they were no longer girls, but they were not yet women (two labels which are pretty arbitrarily defined and assigned, but we’ll not go into that).

I’ll now attempt a smooth segue into the actual intention of this blog.  Transition, change, and instability are to a degree always present in our lives: they’ll pop up when you’re road tripping with your two best friends à la Crossroads; when you’ve discovered that you’re a wizard in the manner of Harry Potter; and when you volunteer to be a tribute to save your younger sister, and wind up becoming a national symbol of resistance like Katniss Everdeen; but I believe that they are most visible during the act of international migration.

Human migration requires both a change in address and a change in identity.  I won’t go into the complexities of the varying types of migration, but I’ve found in my readings that what interests me a great deal is the idea of transnationalism.  This concept addresses a migrant’s state of being between two countries.  Since international travel and communication has become quicker, faster, and cheaper in recent years, one’s identity seems to be less connected with an actual physical, geographical residence than with an apparent genetic code that could almost substitute for a passport or citizenship papers.  For example, one can more easily accept a fourth-generation American living in New York City as “Italian” than a family from Algeria that has settled down in Rome within the past five years.

Transnationalism, as you can see, is gray with uncertainty.  It embodies transition, change, and instability.

I’ll be spending the next few months in the beautiful country of Morocco (and a couple of weeks in the Netherlands come October) to study human migration, and how it affects one’s identity.  I’ll hopefully be brushing up on my French and learning bits of Moroccan Arabic here and there, as well.

So, come and stay a while.  I promise to not make too many pop culture references.