Last March 29 the Annual meeting of Europeanists (CES) in Chicago hosted a session on Domopolitics, and beyond: on the political mobilization of ‘home’ in Europe and North America. The session involved HOMInG’s Paolo Boccagni and Alejandro Miranda, as well as Jan Willem Duyvendak and Fenneke Wekker (both from the University of Amsterdam). Based on original theoretical and empirical contributions, the session interrogated the relevance of a “domopolitics” lens on migrant integration from below and on everyday relations between majorities and minorities, ethnic or otherwise.
In the first presentation, Alejandro Miranda makes a case for home as a socially constructed scale, in the domestic space, but also beyond it. By discussing the practice of “Ecuavolley” among Ecuadorians in Madrid, Miranda highlights the day-to-day negotiation of a sense of familiarity in the public, involving the possibility to anticipate the context – what is going to happen next. These simple activities have also a political relevance, as they are affected by an unequally distributed capacity to draw a sense of familiarity, security and control from the public domain [see also Miranda’s post: https://homing.soc.unitn.it/2018/04/13/alejandro-miranda-nieto-ecuavoley-in-madrid-new-neighbours-old-neighbours-and-the-ordinary-uses-of-home-in-public-space).
In the second presentation, Fenneke Wekker reconstructs the complex and ambiguous experience of home of an adult vulnerable person in Amsterdam, bulding on ethnographic and biographic data. This is against a scenario of “active” welfare policies, fragmented life trajectories and pervasive distrust towards neighbourhoods, not to mention social services.
In the following presentation, Paolo Boccagni outlines a theoretical and research agenda for the study of home-in-the-public. Scaling up the notion of home to the public space, as a matter of differential opportunities to attach security, familiarity and control to it, is a promising research perspective on majority-minority relations. Framing, feeling and claiming public space as home are as many fundamental social processes that call for more empirical investigation.
Last, Jan Willem Duyvendak takes stock of the emerging field of home studies. The “angle of home” provides new ways of seeing and understanding relatively well-known phenomena, with particular respect to the contentious and “policitized” boundary between the public and private.
“Does home have a natural home?”, wonders Duyvendak. Put differently, is scaling it upwards, and outwards, a desirable and fruitful development? Leaving normative stances aside, there is indeed a risk of overstretching the semantic field of home. At the very least, we need more reflexivity in distinguishing its widespread use as a category of practice, and its more problematic use as a category of analysis. On one hand, home is there, wherever – and it’s “such a nice thing that nobody can be really against it”. On the other, its potential as an analytical category needs to be investigated further.
This is one of the key theoretical aims of HOMInG… based also on the insights emerging from the video of this session!