"Homing" in migrants' everyday lives: a conceptual framework
Paper short abstract:
This paper provides a critical inquiry into 'homing', with respect to international migrants. Following a revisit of home as a special kind of social relationship with place, homing is advanced as a tool for comparative understanding of people’s potential and opportunities to make themselves (feel) at home.
Paper long abstract:
This paper elaborates on 'homing', primarily with respect to international migrants. Following a revisit of home as a special kind of social relationship with place, homing is advanced as a tool for comparative understanding of people's potential and opportunities to make themselves (feel) at home, given their assets and external environments. In my understanding, homing encompasses the cognitive, emotional and practical processes whereby we try to carve out a particular life domain - ideally imbued with a sense of security, familiarity and control - to be relabelled as "home". Homing stands also for the individuals' life-long attempt to bridge the gap between the actual home experience and the desired/ideal one. In practice, homing is enacted in more or less successful, durable and "multi-located" ways. Home itself is less one bounded space than a tentative, emplaced aspiration. It shifts over the life and migration course, relies on variable material bases and is heavily affected (but not pre-determined) by social and structural factors, to be empirically explored. For international migrants and refugees, homing is uniquely shaped by the spatial and temporal distance between the here-and-now and what used to be "home" before, against limited opportunities for home-like spaces, routines and emotions. How far migrants recreate a sense of home in the present (rather than projecting it into the past or the future), and through which material cultures, relational infrastructures and housing arrangements, are highly innovative questions for the study of migration and home. A variety of ethnographic and biographical case studies can be revisited through this conceptual framework.