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Home Matters: Meanings metaphors and practices  
International conference on new imaginaries and globalised inclusions and exclusions in practices of making home

May 31-June 1, 2018: Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24 A, 3rd floor) University of Helsinki, Finland

This conference will bring together new thinking about how home is imagined practiced and experienced and consider the political and personal implications of particular ways of imagining home for different groups of people in different places.

Co-organised by
Ann Phoenix, Jane & Aatos Erkko Professor, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and Professor of Psychosocial Studies, UCL, UK
Tuija Pulkkinen, Professor of Gender Studies, Director of Doctoral programme SKY.  Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki

Abstacts from invited speakers

Further abstracts

Speaker bios

Symposium programme

The metaphor of home has long been overdetermined, burdened with symbolic meanings, emotion and experiences and understood through metaphorical meanings at multiple levels. It comprises both place and time and functions as a site of equilibrium, belonging, ontological security and nostalgic yearning. It is because this symbolic desirability remains a strong contemporary current that notions of home, at national and local levels is such a mobilising and emotional metaphor. Home matters because it impels both political and personal behaviour. Its very imprecision makes the metaphor powerful because it can be imagined in personal ways and experienced as collective. Yet, the apparent simplicity of the term masks more complex and multiple notions of home that include the unpleasant and unromantic where homes can function as sites of hatred, unhappiness, unequal power relations, compulsory heterosexuality, abuse and exclusion as well as  inclusion for at least some members.

A major aim of the conference is to consider the multilevel imaginaries of home that lie at the heart of many of the dramatic political changes across the globe. In the Middle East, many African countries, Europe and the USA, struggles over who belongs and who should be excluded from particular nations, are justified by reference to nations as homes. The metaphor of nation as home and domestic has contradictory potential. It serves to justify nationalist exclusions of migrants from national identities and buttresses attempts to claim belonging on the basis of assumed similarities. At the same time that it serves to exclude some who have lived in a nation for a long time, it also authorises the welcoming of some new migrants ‘home’. The British ‘Brexit’ and notions of building a wall between the USA and Mexico are much-debated examples of the political ramifications of the metaphor of home. The ubiquity of ‘home thinking’ at the levels of nation, neighbourhood, institution and dwelling also makes for contestation over the right to belong in public space where political decisions about migration, for example, legitimate some to feel that they have the right to exercise exclusionary practices. Papers in the conference will examine new imaginaries and globalised inclusions and exclusions in practices of making home.

A further aim is to consider new approaches to analysing the multiplicity and complexity of home and the centrality of the imaginary to practices that produce versions of home (Blunt and Dowling, 2006). Recent conceptualisations produce a commonplace that home should be viewed as a verb, rather than a noun, i.e. as processes and practices linked with the construction of identities, rather than simply place. Home making is an imaginative project repeatedly made through everyday practices that are national, transnational, economic, social and dynamic, and refigured through practices that are gendered, racialised and intersected by social class and generation (Lloyd and Vasta, 2017). How is this done for different individuals and collectivities? Homes, like identities, are deeply relational and geographically and historically located sites of memory, identity construction and spatial and temporal belonging. How do different members of families or collectivities imagine and experience home? Recent theories have unsettled understandings of home as unitary or simply about place. This is particularly the case since the boundaries between home and employment, home and education have been blurred by new technologies and expectations of parenthood and childhood. This raises numerous questions about how these boundaries are negotiated.

Conference themes
This conference will be interdisciplinary and include a range of different methods. Overall, the conference aims to bring together different imaginaries of home with a view to gaining new insights into how home is imagined practiced and experienced and consider the political and personal implications of particular ways of imagining home for different groups of people. The empirical work and/or theorisation presented might include (but not be limited to) the following sites and issues

  • Why and when does home matter?
  • Homes as dwellings including family homes and out-of-family care
  • Making home in institutions including educational and employment institutions etc.
  • Localities and national policies and institutions
  • Transnational families
  • Migration and refugees
  • Belonging
  • Imaginaries of family and nation
  • Inclusions and exclusions from home
  • Intergenerational imaginaries, complementarities and contestations
  • Intersectional commonalities and differences
  • Political claims to home
  • Memory and temporalities—past, present, future & Being and Becoming