On HOMInG seminar 27_18 Helen Taylor, the author of Refugees and the meaning of home, presented a conceptual revisit of the idea of home for refugees, based on her recent participatory study in East London.
As Taylor argues, the concept of home is central to the study of forced migration: a refugee is, very loosely, someone who has lost or been driven from their home and is seeking a new one elsewhere. However, the discourses surrounding migration – both popular and theoretical – have led to a limited understanding of what home means for a refugee. Home is often reduced to a ‘here’ or ‘there’ dichotomy, rights of residency or citizenship, the success or failure of settlement in a new environment, or the desirability or likelihood of ‘return’. However, arguably more important are the patterns of belonging which emerge from the ongoing and negotiated construction of home in challenging circumstances, a project which is by its nature always unfinished and is writ large for those forced to migrate.
Taylor’s presentation looks at the central importance of the idea of home for refugees, proposing a more complex and provisional reading of home, which takes into account spatial, temporal, relational and material elements.