The 2017 “travel bans”—curtailing travel into the United States for nationals of several Muslim-majority countries—make palpable the skewed possibility of movement that comes with belonging to a nationality or passport. My experience of navigating travel as an Iraqi-Canadian gives rise to a critical phenomenological reflection on the affective weight of colonial pasts. The colonial past remains with the present; it is intensified through repeated enactment in U.S. policy but also through the weight of its duration and indifference toward it. It is differentially remembered, cognized, and felt—disregarded from white and U.S.-centric perspectives, yet palpably structuring the everyday for the occupied, racialized, and “formerly colonized.” Sometimes it is felt in the form of hesitation. I ask how hesitation can become critical and what its role might be in redressing the past. My theory of time—Bergsonian yet moving beyond Bergson—helps me think this question. I argue that the past coexists with the present and is reconfigured along with it, in a process I liken to kneading or folding dough. While the past’s colonizing fractures cannot be healed, they can be felt, made perceptible, and thought—in attentive reconfiguration of the past, worked through in a critical phenomenology.


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