Iden­tity Cri­sis

Smithsonian Magazine - - Contents -

We reach out to peo­ple around the globe whose lives are be­ing swept up by pow­er­ful his­toric forces

SO MUCH OF THE WORLD’S POP­U­LA­TION HAS BEEN

ousted, ex­pelled, cut loose, forced to flee or oth­er­wise get mov­ing, it’s sur­pris­ing the planet hasn’t tilted off its axis.

In 2017 alone, al­most 12 mil­lion peo­ple fled from vi­o­lence, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­nal Dis­place­ment Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­ter—and al­most 19 mil­lion more were un­moored by cat­a­strophic weather and other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters. Those were just the peo­ple who re­mained within their home coun­tries. Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent tally pub­lished by the United Nations High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees, there were also 22.5 mil­lion refugees in 2016—the high­est level on record.

Within these mass-scale calami­ties are hu­man­scale dis­ori­en­ta­tions, and in the fol­low­ing pages we fo­cus on some of them. In “The Other Amer­ica,” Erika P. Ro­dríguez ex­plores how the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Maria is re­shap­ing her iden­tity as a Puerto Ri­can and as an Amer­i­can. In “The Re­sis­tance,” Wayne Martin Bel­ger casts his artist’s eye on peo­ple who have been marginal­ized or scorned. In “The Res­cuers,” Lu­cian Perkins trav­els to Le Cham­bon-surLignon, a French town with a re­mark­able tra­di­tion of help­ing refugees find them­selves again.

Even when chaos and pri­va­tion seem im­pla­ca­ble, the hu­man drive for dig­nity and val­i­da­tion abides.

IN OUR CHAOTIC ERA, THERE ARE OUT CASTS— AND PEO­PLE WHO TAKE THEM IN

The train to Le Cham­bon-sur-Lignon, a French vil­lage where strangers in need have been wel­comed for cen­turies.

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