Paolo Boccagni will participate in the forthcoming symposium on ‘STAY HOME: New perspectives on the home’ at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen (10-11 November). The meeting is a part of the Danish interdisciplinary research project   STAY HOME: the home during the corona crisis – and after. Paolo’s presentation is on How covid-19 has been reshaping home (studies): a conceptual inquiry. See the abstract below, along with the programme of the symposium.

How covid-19 has been reshaping home (studies): a conceptual inquiry

Paolo Boccagni, University of Trento

It is almost a cliché to state that the pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on domestic life, and possibly on the meaning(s) of home. Little of this debate, however, has so far gone beyond descriptive statements about the functional over-burdening of domestic space, or the critical difference made by its infrastructural quality or its very existence. Following my long-term theoretical engagement with home, and based on an in-depth literature review and on my comparative fieldwork on homemaking in mobility under the HOMInG project (2016-22), I revisit the social consequences of the pandemic for the everyday experience and the interdisciplinary theorization of home.

The pandemic-driven new emphasis on domesticity is also an opportunity for home studies to grow further, including in its conceptual reach, particularly in three respects:

– Acknowledging the metaphorical power of home, as a discursive category whose (un)intended use produces contradictory meanings and articulates contrasting interests between different social actors;

– Unveiling the naturalization of home, as the starting point where each of us should belong and get protection (if needed), regardless of the underlying structures of inequality and oppression;

– Investigating the spatio-temporal rescalings of home, as the covid crisis further emphasizes the potential mismatch between domestic and home-like space, and the struggle to carve out portions of the latter across the indoor-outdoor divide and across different temporalities.

In short, “thinking home” under the pandemic opens up new venues to explore what the notion of home “does”, how the normative subtext of home interplays with its lived experience, and how (far) homemaking is rescaled in space and time. An original research agenda along these lines, I suggest, can further substantiate the significance of home not only in a housing domain but as an unavoidable societal and existential question.