Eat, pray, love
The "white imagination" sanctuary
Keywords:travel, sanctuary, Orientalism, white imagination, travel privilege, citizenship, border control
The stretched-out Oprah-endorsed Eat, Pray, Love (2007) cultural model—what I call the "'white imagination' of sanctuary"—is a troublesome one as we continue to struggle over neoliberal empire-inspired border racialization projects. In this "white imagination" (hooks, 1992/2015) of sanctuary, the travels to find oneself often include falling in love—and perhaps even finding an orgasmic cup of coffee—as a confirmation of enlightenment. The Eat, Pray, Love peace and sanctuary model effaces the specificities of how the travel between the "Global North" and "Global South" is constructed through guarded nation-state borders and citizenship. In this model, the search for sanctuary à la spiritual awakening is tethered to the discourse of "finding oneself" through transatlantic travels—which requires freedom of mobility across nation-state boundaries—between the "West," e.g., America, to the "East," e.g., India. The discourse of sanctuary bracketed with travel (while drinking sweetened coffee/tea in quaint cafés) is based on "western" (e.g., American) citizenship (and class and race privileges), and it is the legacy of the white traveler on vacation—luxury, leisure, and privilege.
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