Peter Kellett @ HOMInG: Going beyond shelter. A longitudinal study of homemaking in rural Colombia

On the first HOMInG seminar in 2018, Peter Kellett (Newcastle University – @StudentsNCL) gives a rich and fascinating account out of his longitudinal ethnography of an informal settlement in rural Colombia. His lecture combines insights from architecture, anthropology and material culture, thereby following the life of dwellers and of their housing arrangements over time. Peter Kellett uses maps, pictures, narratives and his own field notes to provide a fine-grained observation of dwellings as lived spaces in-the-making. The ways of building and making sense of them are investigated both from the outside (re. infrastructural arrangements and the interface with the surrounding space) and from the inside (re. decoration and use of interiors). Informal housing processes are far more than ways to address the basic human need for shelter. Each house is also a life-long embodiment of the dwellers’ struggle for “dignity, respect and respectability”. Dwellings, as Peter concludes, have much to say on culture and class. At the same time, they “embody the future aspirations” of those who built and inhabit them.