After the interruption of introducing new themes every two months, Paratext brings back the bimonthly theme, breaking the seal with ‘reclaim.’
For the posts in November and December, we will consider contributions that (may or may not*) have anything to do with the concept of reclamation ~ to take action to recover possession of (; or, if you will, make (waste land) reusable. To reclaim v.). We hope this word, in its broadest sense, inspires you to write, draw, sing, capture or create, in any language**, shape, or form. By doing so, you may help our platform reclaim the bimonthly theme!
It is a theme that suits our ambitions, but we are aware that the fresh wind of making a new start on our platform is but a tiny speck in everything to be reclaimed in the realm of 2020. We feel there is a certain sensitivity to ‘reclamation’ on the spectrum in which we currently find our world today.
As always, we would like to stress the ways in which our theme is multi-interpretabel. Reclamation may be relevant on an individual level – perhaps literal. I myself recently moved, and noticed the process of possession and its role in reclaiming your home in a new place. In an entirely different way, however, literal possession may of course represent figurative possession to a much wider degree. Attorney, member of the Dutch Council of States, and human rights activist Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You has researched the colonial art in Dutch (historical) museums. A commission under her leadership has recently written an advisory report for the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven. “In colonial times, many cultural goods came to the Netherlands against the will of their owners, for example as spoils of war.”*** This looted art, or ‘roofkunst,’ is still on display in many Dutch museums, who are now advised to return the art to their rightful owners, once they ask for it back. Gonçalves-Ho Kang You’s statement is clear and simple: “If something does not belong to you, you should give it back.” *** According to her, it is an acknowledgement of injustice to give back the looted art when the formerly colonized nations request back what was once theirs. The nations can take action to reclaim their possessions.
You may wonder: whose responsibility is it, to take action in the process of reclamation? Should the one reclaiming always be the one to take action, or can it be facilitated? In essence, does a helping hand dismiss the authenticity of its process? Moreover, reclamation may occur in a situation where you were always the one accountable to begin with. How different is a situation where you never decided to let go of that which needs to be reclaimed. Something that slowly vanished without awareness – something that was taken unwillingly, that was rightfully yours, but seized outside your own control?
We feel this theme, is exceedingly relevant today. Not only in its literal sense – would we not be a platform for literary exploration if we would not look for the figurative ways in which our theme exhibits itself in associations to our current affairs.
In our interiority, where, this year, we were forced to spend more time than ever. To reclaim the tranquillity of our own company, when we are used to the racket of speeding cars, the noise of flashing lights, the commotion of living life among others. To reclaim the structure given to us by external factors who are now at the inside of our screens, which we ourselves have the power to turn on or off.
In our country, where we have to reclaim our responsibility in how we deal with ourselves to protect our collective health and safety.
In our world, in a movement, where some have to reclaim rights that they may have never had, never experienced, but of which they were always meant to have possession, inherently, from the moment they were born in innocence.
In our men, our women – in our people. Reclaiming our bodies, our gender, ourselves.
In our sense of what is just, even when it does not seem fair to have to reclaim at all.
In whatever way you interpret our new theme, may it be light-hearted or loaded, we look forward to reading/hearing/seeing your associations with ‘reclaim.’
* The Paratext theme is meant as a suggestion. It may help spark an idea in aspiring writers who need that little push in the back. Contributors may use it as inspiration, or decide to turn it around and rebel against it. Nevertheless, if you have created something that was born independently and has no relation to our theme, you are always free to send it to email@example.com.
** In case a contribution is not in English or Dutch, we do often ask for a translation. If you have questions, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
By Marlon Schotel