What is the opposite of home, and why does it matter? HOMInG’s Paolo Boccagni and Alejandro Miranda-Nieto address this question through parallel revisits of their fieldwork, up to advancing an original conceptualization of “non-home” – as a matter (also) of volition, rather than (only) of negation, necessity or deprivation. Their article has just been published in the European Journal of Cultural Studies. Abstract below, and free copy available from the authors upon request!
Home in question: Uncovering meanings, desires and dilemmas of non-home
What is the opposite of home? Is it necessarily something ‘negative’? Similar questions, far from having a self-evident answer, make for a fruitful entry point for research into the social experience of home. Central to this article is a novel conceptualization of non-home, against the background of the pre-existing criticisms of the normative, romanticized and depoliticized understandings of home. This article draws from fieldwork on the everyday dwelling experience of migrants and asylum seekers to illustrate the volitional dimension of non-home. Not attaching a sense of home to a dwelling place or set of relationships is not merely a consequence of poor housing conditions. It may also involve an active choice – at least at some points of the life course, in certain household conditions. In this sense, non-home is more than a matter of absence, dispossession, reconfiguration or implosion of home. In questioning the normative view of home as inherently positive and desirable, this conceptualization highlights the reciprocal interaction between home and non-home as mutually interdependent constructs.