Deracinate/ Deracination

Deracinate literally means to pull out a plant’s roots. In postcolonial studies, it implies the literal removal of African peoples from their original cultures and then their enslavement and transportation to the Americas and the caribbean. This forceful removal of the people robbed them of any contacts to their original cultures and their own specific meaning-making processes.

Origins of the Term:

There is a hint about the roots of deracinate in its first definition. Deracinate was borrowed into English in the late 16th century from Middle French and can be traced back to the Latin word radix, meaning “root.” Although deracinate began life referring to literal plant roots, it quickly took on a second metaphorical meaning suggesting removal of anyone or anything from native “roots” or culture. Other offspring of radix include eradicate (“to pull up by the roots” or “to do away with as completely as if by pulling up by the roots”) and radish (a crisp edible root). Though the second sense of deracinate mentions racial characteristics and influence, the words racial and race derive from razza, an Italian word of uncertain origin. (Source: