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Vol. 12 No. 1 (2020): Transnational Literature

A Moving Target Is Harder To Hit: Border-Crossing as a Resistance Weapon in Jackie Kay's “The Smugled Person's Tale”

May 10, 2020


The sovereign State system relies on the idea that all the territory of the world is divided into separate spaces, which are controlled by distinct sovereign governments that make and enforce laws in those territories (Agnew and Corbridge 1995; Jones 2012). Along these lines, Reece Jones claims that those individuals who defy the national demarcations through cross-border movement can be approached as resistant subjects who “disrupt the clean, territorially-based identity categories of the State by evading State surveillance systems and creating alternative networks of connection outside State territoriality” (Jones 2012: 689). In this article, I will analyze the short story “The Smuggled Person’s Tale” (2017), written by Jackie Kay and included in the short story collection Refugee Tales (2017). I argue that this narrative portrays a literary voice of a refugee who, in the need for leaving Afghanistan because of political and social conflicts, defies the sovereign State system by avoiding territorial entrapment through a constant border-crossing. His journey across nations allows him to break the national borders’ dichotomies (in-out / native-immigrant / citizen-exile) (Bhabha 1994; Rojas 2006; Jones 2012; Konrad 2015), thus achieving a nomadic consciousness and reclaiming his right to redefine himself as a global citizen.