How can words be people?

I guess I can now understand how it must be for those who have only known us in books, for I myself am going through the same. I have never seen these people, never before come across their names, and suddenly I have read more than I ever intended to about a lot many group of the people now termed based on what issues put the groups of people in the same category. Perhaps, they are the minorities, perhaps, their history has been silenced, perhaps they are rewriting their history trying to make a space for themselves in this world, fighting for recognition for their identity. Perhaps they get listed when talked about people living in a certain area in a certain condition. I have come to know the people by the issues that have interested me. I have known them to know more about what troubles them. I therefore, know more of their issues than about them perhaps. So even after having read detailed articles, heaps of them, on them, I really don’t know them. To my mind they are so and so people under this larger themes, going about doing different patterned activities under somewhat similar conditions.  I perhaps understand this perspective because I have, for most part of my life been on the other end. My people and I, have been the news headlines, of case of an “underdeveloped country”, a country in crisis, a country in transition. Those who have come to my country, perhaps to them it must be one among the many countries with the same theme, they know more about the issue we face than about us. And I think here is where the devll is. To know a country or a group of people by knowing an issue they face, is no good if you do not know the place and the people but the combination of the two is only among the most committed. 


One comment on “How can words be people?

  1. James says:

    Thoughtful piece which kind of fits my op-ed argument too! Its like the difference between a policy -level understanding of a country and a native understanding. Unfortunately academia and the development world only really rewards and respects the first kind of understanding and not deeper knowledge.

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