Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land

by

Arlie Russell Hochschild

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In its most conventional sense, nostalgia means a longing to return home, usually when that return is no longer possible due to the passage of time. In this book, Hochschild posits nostalgia as Louisianans’ longing for a landscape that industrial pollution has destroyed. Since this involves a memory of (and desire for) something that oil wrecked, nostalgia is an enemy of the structural amnesia that the state and oil industry promote in order to further their interests. Hochschild’s two main examples are the Arenos, who remember when the land they live on could still support wildlife, and Mike Schaff, who goes to Bayou Corne in order to relive his childhood on the water and stays there after the sinkhole opens because he feels nostalgic for the community that scattered after the accident.

Nostalgia Quotes in Strangers in Their Own Land

The Strangers in Their Own Land quotes below are all either spoken by Nostalgia or refer to Nostalgia. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the The New Press edition of Strangers in Their Own Land published in 2016.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Looking out the window of the truck, it’s clear that Mike and I see different things. Mike sees a busy, beloved, bygone world. I see a field of green.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker), Mike Schaff
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

The Arenos didn't simply remember the good old days of a clean Bayou d'Inde. They remembered against the great forgetting of industry and state government. This institutional forgetting altered the private act of mourning. And not just that. It altered the Arenos’ very identity. They had not left Bayou d'Inde. They were stayers. They didn't want to leave, and even if they had wanted to, they couldn't afford to. The polluting companies had given them no money to enable them to move. And the value of their house had now fallen, for who would want to live on Bayou d'Inde Pass Road, even in a home as beautifully kept up as theirs? The Arenos had become stay-at-home migrants. They had stayed. The environment had left.

Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nostalgia Term Timeline in Strangers in Their Own Land

The timeline below shows where the term Nostalgia appears in Strangers in Their Own Land. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3 – The Rememberers
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
...the area, even if they had wanted to. She recalls the etymology behind the word “nostalgia”—the longing to return to a faraway home. The Arenos, conversely, “live at home in an... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
News media reinforces the “basic feeling around town” that nostalgia is a barrier to economic progress. Hochschild sees this as a kind of structural amnesia,... (full context)