Paolo Boccagni will give a seminar at the University of Bielefeld, next week, as a part of the Sociology of Transnationalization – the Transnational Lens series. The seminar, on 31 May at 4.00, will be On the portability of home across displacement and migration: a conceptual framework.

Colloquium Series Sociology of Transnationalization “The Transnational Lens” 

On the Portability of Home across Displacement and Migration: a Conceptual Framework 

Paolo Boccagni – University of Trento, Italy  

This presentation revisits my comparative study of the lived experience of home among (in)voluntary migrants. It starts from an analytical concern with the renegotiation of place attachment and appropriation – as opposed to a simple “loss of home” – under circumstances of displacement and migration. I advance a layered conceptualization of home and retrace the ways in which home may travel, as an assemblage of settings, relations, emotions and narratives, along with migrants and their cross-border connections. How does home change and how far is it retained, on multiple scales, along the way? How does the (re)production of home, as long as it is achievable, desirable or unavoidable, interact with migrant’s struggles to make home anew, and with the predominant home constellations they encounter? What does this mean in terms of its selective and unequal portability? By exploring how different categories of migrants negotiate the material, relational, emotional and moral bases of home, I aim to advance a twofold debate – on the determinants and consequences of the transnational (un)portability of infrastructures, things, lifeviews, memories and rights, but also on the ongoing dialectic between the ascriptive and the achieved (or achievable) dimensions of our life experience. This leads me to discuss five idealtypical configurations of home portability: the embodied, the suitcase, the immobile, the unhomely and the remote-control home. At the intersection between migration, displacement, home and housing studies, my presentation is meant to facilitate our understanding of migrants’ unequal ways of carrying along what has been most important and critical for them, and of reshaping it during transit and settlement through their ways of dwelling, and beyond. This calls for a formal sociological  analysis, inspired by grassroots fieldwork and supported, in turn, by relevant empirical examples.