What Does Expulsion Mean Personally?


Man of Artistic Fingers
Jun 14, 2016
Phoenix, Arizona
I know on the surface being expelled from one's country is a very bad thing, but what does it mean on the inside. I am writing a story where the protagonist and his people are threaten with mass expulsion because they're deemed heretics. I want to approach this subject in a meaningful way.

Any thoughts, comments, suggestions, or videos are welcome,
I’ve never been expelled but I am from a contested place culturally

Culture is a huge thing - culture being our deep held beliefs of who we are. If it is cast aside we feel that our very selves are not valued. If the distance between our perceived culture and that of the majority grows too big we live in a state of cognitive dissonance and stress.

Land and our attachment to it is also significant. We feel a link to the land we set our roots and culture in. To be expelled from it leaves us rootless and lacking ownership of our heritage.

There are also the practical considerations - families and communities separated.

It’s such a massive thing to feel threatened in the land we belong to (which is as far as by experience goes) - to be expelled must be rudderless and vulnerable
Imagine if you were told that you were banned from being a member on this forum. Not because of anything you had posted, but because of the movies you liked to watch, or the books you liked to read. How would that make you feel? To be part of a community one minute, and rejected the next.

I think we have to tread carefully, in order to stay on the right side of the forum's rules. But being ostracised from any familiar group must be a tumultuous experience, and there are many instances of this happening over the centuries.

But I think that it's important when writing to convey your personal feelings. Think of a situation where you were excluded from a group. How did you feel, and how did you react? Did you conform to fit in, or did you stand your ground and stay true to your principles?

If you conformed, did you feel guilt or remorse, or were you simply glad to be part of the group again. If you stayed apart, were you bitter and resentful, or did you find that actually you felt better off.
One possible dynamic is the feeling that the expellers have destroyed your country. As in, that the society that you grew up in, that you always felt a part of no longer exists— not for you, not for anyone. Look at real-world examples where pluralistic societies have succumbed to fundamentalism.
Some historical examples: the Jews of Spain, the Cherokees, the Circassians, the Pontic Greeks, the Crimean Tatars. Sometimes people are able to make it to greener pastures (eg Spanish Jews who made it to Italy) but overall it seems like a traumatic and, for many, deadly experience.
Go find memoirs and histories of people it happened to. There are many. To Panda's list, I'd add the Huguenots and tales of the Indian partition, to toss another couple up off of the top of my head.

Also... what about the idea on the inside interests you? Yes, research and fidelity and doing justice matter. But presumably you are drawn to the idea because there's something there that speaks to you, no? There's something you expect to find, something you've heard, something about the situation that stirs you? Go for that.
Superficially, the idea of being exiled to nowhere from the only place and life you have known--no matter how bad it has been--is terrifying. How will you live, will anyplace else accept you there, where will/can you go, will they understand you or even care to, will the next place also eject you perhaps violently, will they imprison you just because you are there seeking help, is the next place violent and dangerous beyond all your experience, etc? Those basic fears you can find within yourself. Since I assume you mean an entire people, so families, heap on every imaginable fear for your loved ones.

Deeper, you need to consider the experience of racial, religious, or cultural bias felt while still at home. There is no feeling quite like being unwelcome by the population in the one place you deserve to call home. In brief, you are truly believed to be and treated as 'less than' and 'disposable' for no other reason than you were born with certain genetics or raised a particular way. And, it doesn't matter how much you prove otherwise--you will always be an outsider in your own nation. Naturally, elsewhere, you are thought of and treated as even less because you don't belong there and have not earned the right to be there.

So you are going from bad to much worse, and the only hope of finding unconditional acceptance is to magically transport to another world--where you really-really don't belong.

Without personal elaboration, consider entering anywhere else, without language skills (even English), penniless, and alone. Because you are not from where you arrive, you are less than them. Because you are not like the people where you end up, you are thought of as even less. Because you are an outcast from where you belong, you are thought even less of again. If an American (as an example), you are met with animosity for being from there, but heap onto that your nation didn't accept you, so you do not bear the authority (struggling for the right word) and therefor make a prime target for people to apply their anger toward America. Finally, Using the US again as an example, if you are not a Caucasian American, you're considered even lower. So, you are considered less than human, their goat or plastic cup holds more value than--you.

You will find acceptance in one sort of place, the favelas/slums of other nations where the outcasts of that nation live. Such places, by virtue of you living there, the population tends to view you as deserving to be there--after some effort.

Lastly, if you ever return to your nation of origin, you will have firmed your designation as an outsider--not of that nation and undeserving to be there. There is no going back to how it was, however bad it was. You are now considered even less than when you were originally there, as you were met elsewhere.

It is the end of your life as you've known it, ever hoped it would be, dreamed of, and is now worse than you ever imagined it could be.

Welcome to your fresh start from zero.

Also, are they under the threat of expulsion, or is the process happening, or has it happened and they are exiles? Those are three things will feel very different to different people.

I am very reluctant to compare my experience as a willing expatriate to that of the unwilling and persecuted - the sort of experience that leaves many British Jews today still talking about how they talk about having a suitcase always packed just in case, as if they were an abused spouse mustering up the courage to act if there's no other option rather than ordinary citizens because that is their heritage - but there must be commonalities.

But I can tell you each step was different and that I think must be fairly universal in some form. That, and these are just my experiences, the anticipatory rootlessness and half-hearted hope it wouldn't come to it was different to the confusion and impatience of the process which is different to spending every day living among people who no matter how long I live here, will never be mine in the same way the people I grew up with were. The framing of the question leaves me unsure which step the story is at; the answers will be somewhat different depending on the state.
Thank you all for not just your timely replies, but more so for your thoughtful replies. I will study them and reread them.

If I stirred up painful memories I apologize.

I am trying to be a thoughtful writer and not a hack and it's making me dig a little bit deeper than usual.
Go find memoirs and histories of people it happened to.
Where can I find memoirs and histories?
There are many. To Panda's list, I'd add the Huguenots
My story is about a character that is a cross between a Jew and a Huguenot in a pseudo France on another planet.
Also... what about the idea on the inside interests you? Yes, research and fidelity and doing justice matter. But presumably you are drawn to the idea because there's something there that speaks to you, no? There's something you expect to find, something you've heard, something about the situation that stirs you? Go for that.
That's a good question. Right now, I don't have an answer, however subconsciously I may be looking for an answer. How do I go for it?
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Also the Mormons, who were often expelled or in various ways forced to move on. Since this was happening during the 19th century I'd think there would be a number of written accounts (diaries, memoirs, letters, etc.) that would be relatively readily available. If you don't know where to begin to look, I suggest consulting a reference librarian at a nearby college or city library.
Following on from what @The Big Peat said, I have two observations from my family history.

1: I know only snippets about my father's side of the family, but I am aware that his maternal grandfather was Irish, but living in South Wales, working as a sinker and then as a miner. I don't know why he left Ireland, but in the late 19th/early 20th century there were plenty of reasons why people were forced to leave. My great-grandfather made a life for himself, and from my father's comments, had a scattered family who managed to keep in touch - this is mostly deduce from my father's comments of visiting relatives who spoke Welsh with odd accents. The point is that whatever drove them from their homes and scattered them, they survived it and kept their connections alive.

2: That side of the family have a history of moving around in subsequent generations. It might be coincidence, or it might be a mindset that helped them cope was passed down. My grandmother moved to Sussex, back to Wales, then to Bristol, whilst her brother stayed in Wales, having traveled around a bit in the army. Of my great uncle's children, one emigrated to America, another has retired to Scotland. My sister spent years working in Europe before returning to the UK and settling a fair distance from Bristol, whilst I have landed in Cornwall via Berkshire. As for my father - I swear that if you put him somewhere new and drop back in a week to check on him, he will be a part of the local community, know the life story of his nearest dozen or two neighbours and generally be "at home".
If you're looking for historical context, look at the Roman concept of banishment. Refusal of fire and water - meaning if you were within the territorial bounds of the Roman Republic or Empire, anyone who gave you shelter, food, water - the basics of life - could share the same fate as you. You had no rights, could be killed on sight and your only hope of survival lay in getting out before your time ran out. Because usually you had a set amount of time to get gone.

A lot of interesting takes on the personal aspect of things above - the only thing I'd add is that just being excluded from a group gathering feels kinda crappy. So magnify that feeling and those negative thoughts and emotions to the point where no one wants anything to do with you. Because you've been labeled or whatever - the point is when an entire population treats you like you don't exist or don't matter, it's a whole new level of awful.
The only way I know to go about exploration is to create a character and go with them. At this point, don't worry about being correct or in depth or any of that. Just create a character and follow them. Question will arise at once.

How do they find out about the exile? Does someone come to their home (do they have a home?)? Are they given a deadline and have to sell belongings? Do they leave on foot? In a wagon with their possessions? Do they have a choice of destinations or are they being sent to a particular place? Do they go alone or do they have family? Companions? Do they leave from a farm? A city? Are they an artisan, a noble, a soldier?

OK, they're on the road. Now what? Are they received at places or must they camp in the open? Are the harassed along the way? Attacked? When do they start to feel like foreigners? A shift in food? In language? Is it very far to this place; do the seasons change, weather turn foul?

Then, once beyond the boundary, once they are truly exiled, then what? How do they get food? Are there people sympathetic to their plight or are they universally reviled?

And so on. There's a ton of work you can get done more or less right away.

Meanwhile, start reading. Look particularly for examples from roughly the time period in which you're setting the story. Economic systems, technology, governmental organization, lots of things affect the experience of immigrants.
Where can I find memoirs and histories?

Ask a librarian. Ask people who you know who might know if they can recommend titles.

Put something like "Huguenot histories" or "WW2 jewish memoirs" into google.

Look up these moments and groups on Wikipedia and see what articles and books it references.

That's a good question. Right now, I don't have an answer, however subconsciously I may be looking for an answer. How do I go for it?

Then if you don't, just write the story. See what emerges.
We moved house years ago, across the country - and OH had to stay behind for three months before job relocated him permanently, important project to put to bed. We'd wanted the move, but there I was on my own, and I found it really hard the first few weeks as the shops were different, I didn't know where anything was, the sounds were different and the rhythms of life were too. It would have been better if OH had been around. He was having an equally crappy time, staying in the house we were selling, without our books, the cats and me and working long hours, while having to keep it immaculate for viewings (immaculate is not our native state).
I think others may consider me more of as an insider than an outsider (even though I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy) for I belong to no minority group. When one possesses a physical disability one can be left out. It can go as far as your opinion or thinking isn't valid, because you're handicapped. SMA doesn't affect the brain. Even though, I have experience this scenario a number of times, I haven't lost sleep over it.

Some may consider me coming from a broken family, because most of my sibling (including me) were adopted out due to an alcoholic father that couldn't hold a steady job.

The odd thing was my biological mother and my adopted mother were friends and that is how I and my two brothers were adopted.

Even though we were separated from our other siblings we somehow stayed in contact on and off for many years.

The sad part is most of my aunts and uncles (on my Mother's side) died when I was young. My father was an only child which meant no aunts or uncles. And I never knew him.

One thing I knew or thought I knew, was that I am half Irish and half French. I didn't doubt my French side (which I have always been proud of) for I knew my mother's maiden name is Benoit and grandmother was a Cadieux. My father's name didn't look or sounded Irish.

Then about six or seven years ago, one of my sisters did a DNA test. It turned out most of my ancestors were from the UK and Ireland and ten per cent were Greek and Italian while eight per cent were norther European while zero zero two percent were Finish.

As I read this, I wonder how much of them is in me?
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Research complex ptsd and the impact of shame. I have been sacked (fired) twice and gone through horrendous insolvency that ended up with being banned from being a director for five years. This has left me with PTSD (not complex PTSD) and have spent a number of years undergoing therapy.

My minority status in other areas has led me to be excluded from certain groups and necessitated secretive behaviour to avoid hate crimes in other groups.

Mine is not one of a disenfranchised community but a loner so I can’t speak to the expulsion of residents. However I have no countrymen to whom I can turn — I suggest your characters will or should form a strong ‘ex pat’ community