Bounded worlds of glass: concepts of home in systems of racial exclusion
Martha Norkunas (Middle Tennessee State University)
Paper short abstract:
How do African Americans in the U.S. narrate home? Is it tied to a dwelling, a community of support, feelings of safety or belonging? What walls of glass constitute the boundaries of home? This paper explores concepts of home developed within systems of racial oppression.
Paper long abstract:
How do people of color in the United States narrate the concept of home? Is it tied to a physical dwelling, a community of support, feelings of safety, or ideas about belonging to a place or a nation? What are the boundaries of the place of home? What are the boundaries of the idea of home? Based on life history interviews conducted over a five-year period with African Americans in Austin, Texas this paper explores the differing boundaries of home developed within systems of racial oppression. I will reflect on narrators' experiences of "bounded worlds" within a city they called home and look at their sense of the nation as home, even when that nation had a long history of institutional, transgenerational racism. The walls of glass metaphor is particularly apt as narrators so often looked over and through the boundaries that strove to exclude them from various aspects of the public and private spheres. It is also a provocative metaphor to use to think about ideas of the home, with its implications of privacy and belonging. Is the home a place apart from racialized exclusion or is it a product of that exclusion? What is visible inside the boundaries of home, and whose gaze is allowed to see?
Walls of glass: visibility and transparence in materiality and metaphor