Eat, pray, love

The "white imagination" sanctuary


  • Roksana Badruddoja Manhattan College


travel, sanctuary, Orientalism, white imagination, travel privilege, citizenship, border control


The stretched-out Oprah-endorsed Eat, Pray, Love (2007) cultural model—what I call the "'white imagination' of sanctuary"—is a troublesome one as we continue to struggle over neoliberal empire-inspired border racialization projects. In this "white imagination" (hooks, 1992/2015) of sanctuary, the travels to find oneself often include falling in love—and perhaps even finding an orgasmic cup of coffee—as a confirmation of enlightenment. The Eat, Pray, Love peace and sanctuary model effaces the specificities of how the travel between the "Global North" and "Global South" is constructed through guarded nation-state borders and citizenship. In this model, the search for sanctuary à la spiritual awakening is tethered to the discourse of "finding oneself" through transatlantic travels—which requires freedom of mobility across nation-state boundaries—between the "West," e.g., America, to the "East," e.g., India. The discourse of sanctuary bracketed with travel (while drinking sweetened coffee/tea in quaint cafés) is based on "western" (e.g., American) citizenship (and class and race privileges), and it is the legacy of the white traveler on vacation—luxury, leisure, and privilege.

Author Biography

Roksana Badruddoja, Manhattan College

Dr. Roksana Badruddoja focuses on contemporary social inequalities and the voices of marginalized "Others" as hir sites of thinking to address social problems in the modern world. Hir is the author of National (un)Belonging: Bengali American Women on Imagining and Contesting Culture and Identity (Brill/Haymarket, In press), the editor of "New Maternalisms": Tales of Motherwork (Demeter, 2016), and a contributor of Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian Daughters in Obedience and Rebellion (Aunt Lute, 2016).



How to Cite

Badruddoja, R. (2022). Eat, pray, love: The "white imagination" sanctuary. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 12(2), 86–92. Retrieved from



Creative Works & Self-Reflections