The Headstrong Historian: Heimat

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  • Topic: Family, Human, Culture of Nigeria
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  • Published : November 10, 2012
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Heimat struggle in The Head Strong Historian

One is not born free to completely choose one’s path. Through different bonds that come from one’s family and community, a connection with certain characteristics are stuck to each person. This phenomenon is commonly known as heimat. Even though this Germanic word can be associated with homeland, it does not have a direct translation to the English language. Vilém Flusser, a Czech Jewish author, describes how in order to be free one must detach oneself from these heimats in his article “The Freedom of the Migrant”. Here, he explains how each person is tied to his or her own heimat and furthermore talks about how these bonds are in one’s unconscious, “We are attached to heimat by many bonds, most of which are hidden and not accessible to consciousness” (Flusser, 3). Vilém Flusser truly believes that one’s freedom is created by one’s detachment from these bonds; this idea is represented through a variety of examples in Adichie’s short story “The Headstrong Historian”.

Most human beings don’t have the opportunity to grow up with the chance to experience different cultures; for that matter different heimats. Most of today’s population does not have the means to travel and perceive other communities and ways of life. For that reason, it is very common for the average human being to grow accustomed to their traditions and feel that their native heimat is their ultimate heimat, in other words, the “right” heimat. Seeing as they do not know anything else, they cannot compare the quality of different things, “Those who are settled in a place confuse heimat with home. Because of this they sense that their heimat is nice and pleasant, in the same way that we think of our home as nice and pleasant. And then they confuse prettiness with beauty” (Flusser, 13). This creates a sort of barrier of incomprehension towards another person’s way of life. An uncomfortable feeling grows inside of people when they are in a setting that is...
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