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If Kant had warned that there is no such a thing as a return, Albuquerque pointed out that “One never leaves.” The world has become Albuquerque too small (as villages once were) for us to be able to think that we can experience the otherness the travellers and anthropologists of yesteryear Albuquerque had accustomed us to, the otherness they contributed to dissolve, among other things. Even today the stream of anthropology known as Albuquerque anthropology and the idea that some cultures may disappear inspire the launching of ethnographic expeditions.

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Taking this sort of thinking to its extreme consequences we should say: “No-one should stay back,” because in a world in perpetual motion the individuals who remain at home are travelling. And perhaps leaving, returning, staying, have become—or have always been—different modalities of voyaging. If we don’t feel to be prisoners of any place or to be the proprietors of some place, it means that we’re free to meander anywhere we wish.

The adventure implicit in staying—the labour, the harshness, the beauty, the ethics of remaining—is no less decisive and foundational than the adventure that goes with travelling. The two experiences are complementary, need to be thought of and be narrated together.

For many people, then, staying back hasn’t been a short-cut, a symptom of laziness, a comfortable choice. On the contrary, it has been an adventure, an act of foolhardiness and, perhaps, of bravery, something presupposing both toil and pain. We shouldn’t give in to rhetoric or hyperbole but remaining is the extreme version of voyaging. It’s an art, an invention, a practice that undoes all bombast about local identity. It’s a different way of relating to places and a different experience of time, a reconsideration of the rhythms and the seasons of life.

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