Accepted paper:

Returning "home": narratives of (dis-) embedding in transformation contexts


Caroline Hornstein Tomic (Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar)
Elisabeth Kirndörfer (European University Viadrina)

Paper short abstract:

This contribution traces literary ways of questioning/handling/dealing with the motive of 'home' in transformation contexts. It focusses particularly on narratives of 'homecoming' after political system change and biographical inquiries into the notion of “belonging”.

Paper long abstract:

The breach of 1989 is one of the most prominent cases of political system change: it broke into biographies, families, life-worlds, places and induced "worlds in transition". The same is true for social contexts agitated by war: they breathe the breaches even many decades later and, which is the focus of this intervention, fuel unexpected and ambivalent configurations of (dis-) embedding and belonging. It seems characteristic for transformation spaces that "home" was/is lost - but also (re-) claimed and thus called into existence at the same time. We find it as a figure of mind meandering through novels, poems, tales and narratives of (dis-) embedding, of losing and of returning, but also referred to as an official category generated to manage the highly political notion of belonging. Thus the process of 'homecoming' after political system change may incite a biographical inquiry at the outcome of which return might be in vain and displacement the actual "home". Throughout this intervention we seek to trace different - literary - ways of questioning, chasing, interrogating, grasping, losing, in short: handling/dealing with the motive of 'home' in transformation contexts. In linking up narratives of (dis-) embedding which refer to different geographical and historical contexts, we aim at identifying common grounds and differing angles illuminating the inherent shifts and ambivalences of such a "literature of no-mans-land" (Igor Stiks) by tracing also different generational perspectives.

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Narratives/counter-narratives of homecoming