People seem to want to locate, to have a 'home' of some sort. It is an inquiry, I feel, worth exploring.

Anthony Stewart

Especially since his son was born two years ago, Professor Anthony Stewart, English, has been ruminating on the subject of "home."

Stewart spent all of his life in Canada before coming to Bucknell, but he was the son of two Jamaican parents who had emigrated from that Caribbean island independently before meeting in their new country.

"So I was a black Canadian living in this far Northern, really white country," says Stewart. He had this ancestral connection to Jamaica, even though he had only been there once on a visit in his childhood, and he primarily looked for role models — people he felt were relatively like him — in African-American athletes and writers who were from the big country to the south, the United States.

"Then I moved here," says Stewart, which started to change his idea of home. When his son was born, he realized that home would eventually mean something different to him, given his ethnicity, heritage and place of birth.

"Though I have been here only a short time, I am more comfortable in the way the United States speaks to me than Canada, which didn't speak to anyone who looks like me," says Stewart. "The issue there was for each individual to fit themselves into a largely monolithic narrative. Here in the United States, it is easier to figure out a place to fit into a multifarious culture."

Stewart says, for instance, it seemed to him that it was almost endemic in a Canadian boy to want to grow up and play in the National Hockey League. If he himself did not, did that make him not a Canadian?

"American lives look chaotic to people who don't live here," he says. "But it certainly allows an American to have greater choices."

He plans to expand his own thoughts, and then take stories from other people as well. He likes the idea that seemingly unconnected academic departments at Bucknell work together, and hopes to tap the expertise of colleagues in the digital humanities to help him record the notions of home held by people of a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds.

"We all draw many circles around what 'home' is," says Stewart. It might be a neighborhood or an area or a country, or even the specific residence someone inhabits. "People seem to want to locate, to have a 'home' of some sort. It is an inquiry, I feel, worth exploring."

Updated Sept. 30, 2016

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