Who we are and who we will become depends on our environment”.

Living in Amman.

Before I left Amsterdam
I had this idea of writing a (small) book
About ‘identity, context, a sense of belonging’
Or something like that.

Intrigued by how refugees survive
Their ability to fit in a new context and culture
What context does to identity
And how ‘belonging’ works.

For refugees in general
And specifically the people living here in Al Za’atari refugee camp.

I found out that this subject is also directly related to myself
My own identity in this new unfamiliar context (Jordan).
Who am I in this environment?
How will it affect me?
(How) do I fit in?

I decided to start writing about this.
It fascinates me.

Now, a few weeks later
- after writing and talking to people about this subject
It seams to be a subject we ALL can relate to.

We all have changing contexts at some point in our lives
One way or another

And the context we're in influences us
Maybe more than we are aware of.
(See my explanation below:“Who we are and who will become depends on our environment.)

I am not only talking about big changes of context
- like moving to another country (forced or voluntary).
Changes happen to all of us.
E.g.: when you start living on your own,
when you travel (a temporary change of context),
when you move to a different area (neighborhood, city, village)
when you get involved in a new relationship
even when you change jobs
you’re changing context.

Yess. Now it’s getting even more interesting.
The effect of changing environments
I want to know more
Figure out how this works.
Curiosity killed NO cat;-)

I have decided to write about this subject in my own free zone.
No client. No obligations.
No science stuff. No urge for a full beating story.
Just my thoughts. My voice. My style.
Quick & dirty.
Freestyle writing.

Starting thoughts

Here are some of my underlying starting points/thoughts about identity.
(triggered by a lecture of prof. Paul Verhaeghe and his book ‘Identiteit’)

There is no ‘substantial’ or ‘fixed’ identity – in none of us.
You are not born with it.
The person we are right now is not the person we'll be for the rest of time.
Identity is mutable. It develops.
And it comes from the outside.

All changes of contexts have influence on who you are and who you will become; your identity.

When it comes to identity there will always be the tension between the need for connection and the need for separation.
A struggle everyone have to deal with. In all changing contexts in life.

Some questions

Some questions on my mind.
Waiting to be answered.

How does it work? Identity in relation to context?
How come genes are much less determinative than contexts when it comes to identity?
In what ways can/does the change of contexts affect your life?
In what extent does it change who you are (your identity)?
Can you resist it?


How do you fit in a (new) context?
When does a place/context feel like home? When do you ‘belong’?
And when (or where) do you NOT belong? What contexts will never feel like home?

Who we are and who we will become depends on our environment

It would be great to add quotes and perspectives from many people.

I am going to interview people here in Jordan (started already)
And I will post specific questions also, the coming months.

 If you already have any thoughts on this subject of ‘identity and context, please let me know!

Post it in comments or send me an e-mail.
Love to hear your thoughts.


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