In a historical period characterized by political and social occurrences of immigration crises, Shakespeare’s and early modern dramatic attention to aliens and foreigners invite us to re-read the anguish of Shakespeare’s alien and to investigate the ways in which, in the specific case of Othello, the Moor’s experience prefigures subsequent migrations and the contemporary immigrants’ struggle for integration. Caryl Phillips’ creative re-appropriation of Shakespeare’s Othello in The Nature of Blood (1998) gives voice to the psychological anguish of a migrant in the guise of an unnamed Othello-like black general newly arrived in Venice. In a never-ending dialogue between present and past, Phillips articulates a complex reflection on the immigrants’ desire to be granted recognition as a legitimized individual with a social identity, while problematising the idea of home and the sense of belonging, here understood as the subjective feeling of identification with a city/nation. With such a complex redefinition in mind, my paper conceptualizes Othello (alias the migrant) as an ethnopsychiatric “symptom”, in a psychopathology of migration and exile which exposes the meanings and practices of belonging produced and supported by host societies.
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