SIEF2017 13th Congress: Göttingen, Germany
26-30 March 2017

Translocal living and dwelling: homes in the making
Location ZHG 002
Date and Start Time 27 March, 2017 at 10:45
Sessions 2


  • Pihla Maria Siim (University of Tartu) email
  • Laura Assmuth (University of Eastern Finland) email

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Short Abstract

In the context of increased mobility, more and more people have multiple or moving homes. Despite the connotation of the word "home" to images of non-motion and permanency, this panel takes mobility as a starting point for cultural analysis of home and translocal practices of homemaking.

Long Abstract

In the context of increased mobility, more and more people have multiple homes or homes in new places. Despite the connotation of the word "home" to images of non-motion and permanency, mobility can be seen as a fruitful starting point of a cultural analysis of translocal homemaking, which is the focus of this panel.

Living translocally often means that people develop multiple sites of rootedness and belonging, in which aspects of both discontinuity and fixity can be present. People move between different places of residence and reference systems, which makes it relevant to analyze also the social and political aspects of being-in-place. Processes of homemaking are unavoidably different depending on the status of a person on the move and thus linked to questions of power and inequality.

We welcome papers from diverse empirical bases exploring (gendered) everyday practices of translocal living and homemaking: the different ways of being-at-home in a place or on the move. Themes to be addressed include also home as a lived experience; the bodily meanings and practices of translocal dwelling; the role of the imaginary and memory in homemaking; families and/or dwellings as sites of belonging; negotiations between mobile and immobile people; and the ways to turn new places and dwellings into a home with furnishing and decorating, and the role of material objects in this process.

Presentations based on ethnographic fieldwork are encouraged, but also papers exploring the theoretical, conceptual or methodological implications of homes-in-the-making are warmly welcome.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Women in between: ageing, care and refugee experience

Author: Petra Ezzeddine (Charles University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper is based on research with aging women with refugee experience from the former Yugoslavia living in the Czech Republic. The refugee experience and transnational care are cyclical, gaining new significances in various stages of women’s lives and in various transnational environments.

Long Abstract

The paper is based on research with women with refugee experience from the former Yugoslavia, aged 50+, who have already been living in the Czech Republic for more than twenty years, I will argue that the refugee experience and transnational care of women are not linear but cyclical, gaining new significances in various stages of women's lives, in various social contexts and transnational environments. Special focus is on aging and entrance into retirement age, when the women find themselves under a double pressure: they are trying to safeguard their own vulnerable position at work and at the same time to meet the normative commitments (traditionally expected from women) regarding transnational care of seniors.I will argue that migration often brings the negotiation of gendered moral commitments, cohesion ,duty and practical strategies, the aim of which is to reproduce the family and gender identity in a transnational environment.

Making home, community and the self: food, gender and mobility among Russian migrant women

Author: Marina Hakkarainen (University of Eastern Finland)  email

Short Abstract

The paper will discuss cooking practices of Russian women married abroad as a way of making homes, constructing their immediate social surroundings and reformulating their identities in migration.

Long Abstract

In the world of increasing mobility, it is crucial to understand how people create connections to places. Meanwhile, food is a fundamental way to develop symbolic meanings feeding local identities, national belonging and communal bodies. Cooking is also a practice associated with making families and home. In (im)migration especially, if we take into account people's experience of displacement and homelessness, cooking can be seen as a meaningful work of overcoming this feeling of uncertainty. Culturally defined food is promoting traditions in immigrant communities and families; it is a way for mobilising group solidarities and supporting intimate relationships in families as well. However, the meaning of cooking food in immigration can be explored wider.

In this paper, I want to discuss one more function of cooking food that I observed among Russian women in (im)migration: a communicative one. It is not surprising in the case of women with a Russian cultural background. Firstly, kitchen is a female's place of domestic work and production; secondly, it is also a culturally marked space of informal communication. The women's food practices I would like to discuss not necessarily appeal to their ethnic or national cooking traditions. They cook various foods addressing their food ideology, cooking skills and migration experience. In this way, they also express and reconstruct their gender, class, religious belonging and social position in immigration. Exchanging home-cooked food with each other, they expand their kitchen production to the immediate community, consolidate it and at the same time outline diversities in it.

Home-sick and home-seeking: translocal homing strategies among Italian Punjabi households

Author: Sara Bonfanti (University of Trento)  email

Short Abstract

From my multisite ethnography, the paper considers how long-term Punjabi migrants in Italy and their families of origin devise and enact home-making at a translocal level. With a narrative approach, the piece interprets this diaspora's attempts at viably bridging sedentarism with mobility.

Long Abstract

Drawing from my multisite ethnography, the paper considers how long-term Punjabi migrants resettled in Italy and their families of origin devise and enact practices of home-making at a translocal level.

Basing my arguments on participant observation, life-stories and photographic data, I thread the tales of two Italian Punjabi households as they shift kin and possessions back and forth in order to inhabit their houses 'here and there', in presence and absence. Charting my hosting families through Lombardy's hamlets and the Hoshiarpur district, I explore how diasporans imagine, build and (un)timely reside in far-apart but connected domestic spaces.

On one hand, housing schemes of tenancy or ownership are often fiddly for immigrants, due to administrative and informal sociability reasons in wealthy northern Italian areas marked by swelling cultural diversity and social inequity. On the other, diaspora investments in the real estate market impinge on the urban and rural development of the burgeoning Indian Punjab, as expats and returnees seek out city flats in gated residences or countryside family lodges. Simultaneous long-distance strategies for 'homing' signal diverse public engagements with properties, landscapes and communities. Yet, hybrid arrangements of domestic aesthetics and ethics within the privacy of one's house(hold) reveal the contradictory commitments that genders and generations may infuse their homes with.

With a narrative approach, the piece aims at describing these attempts at transnational home-making as an allegory of the motley diaspora's search for bridging sedentarism and mobility, in my informants' words for gaining some "unbound settledness".

Home between "here" and "there": a case of Lithuanians in Norway

Author: Darius Daukšas (University of Eastern Finland)  email

Short Abstract

Based on findings from fieldwork in Oslo and Stavanger the presentation explores perceptions of "home" of Lithuanian migrants in Norway. For some of them home is where they live, but many of them take a 'transnational understanding' of home or more precisely - homes.

Long Abstract

"My home is where I keep my tooth brush, or where I keep my shoes" - these are quite common sayings of Lithuanian migrants to Norway. Indeed, the concept of "home" is a much broader concept than it was some time before. A stable, rooted concept starts to loose its ground. Instead the concepts of deterritorialization, reterritorialization and others are employed to address the changing nature of rootedness in 'own land, culture, or state'.

Based on findings from fieldwork in Oslo and Stavanger (Norway), I will provide ethnographic examples on perceptions of home of Lithuanian migrants in Norway. Despite having lived in Norway for considerable periods Lithuanian migrants continue to have an ambiguous image of home. For some of them home is where they live, but many of them take a 'transnational understanding' of home or more precisely - homes. Despite staying in a new country, emigrants continue to feel as if they still live in their nation-state (Lithuania). This also influences how they perceive "home" here and there.

(Re-)inventing 'home'?: Euro-Turks' translocal space in the Mediterranean tourism hub of Turkey

Author: Nilay Kilinc (University of Surrey)  email

Short Abstract

The research explores the 'return' of the second generation Germany-born Turks to Antalya, a tourism hub in the southern Turkey. Based on 50 in-depth interviews, the narratives reflect that searching for a 'home' and 'better life' have a greater importance throughout their 'return' journey.

Long Abstract

The Turkish labour migration to Germany has evolved into four generations in the last 55 years. However, the number of Turkish resettling in Turkey has been rapidly increasing. This research uses a lifestyle-migration lens to explore the 'return' of the second generation to their parents' country of origin. However, instead of settling in cities/villages of their parents or big cities like Istanbul and Ankara, this particular group consciously chose a tourism hub, Antalya. The premise of the research is that the 'returnees' particularly value the intercultural and social setting of Antalya with its many foreign, especially German, tourists and residents. According to the thematic analysis of 50 in-depth interviews, the narratives reflect that the second generation saw in Antalya a place where they can (re-)invent a 'home' in which their dual identities, bilingual skills and translocal ties can co-exist. Moreover, they can mobilise their human capital of educational qualifications, language skills and life experience to set up or get jobs in the tourism industries, combining work with a relaxed attitude to life. Alongside these practical considerations of seeking a better work-life balance, were more existential themes of (re-)discovering their 'true selves' and (re-)inventing the meaning of 'home' in this cosmopolitan niche. The research aims to highlight that in the case of second generation Germany-born Turks, economic factors per se are not the determinant of the 'return' decisions; but being able to manifest their dualities carry a higher importance.

Multiple dwelling in the Greater Region SaarLorLux: moving from nation into region

Author: Elisabeth Boesen (Université du Luxembourg)  email

Short Abstract

The paper argues that cross border residential migration in the Greater Region can be seen as variably extended dwelling. By adopting a perspective that is not caught in the conceptual nexus of border and mobility, it tries to enhance our understanding of processes of regional identification.

Long Abstract

Relocating the home to the other side of a national border is a practice of border crossing that is often interpreted as being linked to processes of globalization leading to the emergence of transnational relationships and identities. In the paper, residential migration from Luxembourg to German border villages, although seen as part of a multifaceted state of mobility, will be analyzed as a local phenomenon connected with specific local processes of identification. By adopting a perspective that is not caught in the conceptual nexus of border and mobility, the paper tries to enhance our understanding of processes of regional identification.

In recent years there has been some scholarly work on dwelling issues that goes along with a renewed interest in a broad understanding of dwelling. This renewed interest is related to the general turn to mobility in the social sciences and humanities. One can argue that dwelling is especially important to those who are travelling, and that in an era of "thinned out places" home becomes more important. At the same time there is also growing interest in the forms of mobile dwelling in the literal sense and in poly-topical or multi-local residence. The paper proposes a view on dwelling practices that are related to cross border residential migration. It is argued that by analyzing individual "migration histories" and the intermingling of various practices of dwelling this form of mobility can be seen as a process of variably extended dwelling.

Leaving the nest and building a new one: how university students create a sense of home while living in student housing

Author: Maia Daniel  email

Short Abstract

This paper will examine how university students create a home in the temporary living space of a dorm room. Establishing their first independent living arrangement marks a rite of passage between childhood and young adulthood, highlighting a unique example of place making and self-expression.

Long Abstract

Leaving the family home to create a new home in a dorm room or university apartment marks a threshold between childhood and adulthood for many young Americans. Restricted by limited space, a young person is challenged to make a comforting home-like sanctuary while navigating moving to a new place, attending classes, and living with a roommate who is likely a stranger. Most of the time, this arrangement will be temporary. Students sign a one-year rental contract, and once they pass their first year at school, they are no longer required to live in university dormitories.

Establishing a temporary home at school serves as a rite of passage. Students leave their childhood home and attempt to make a new home for themselves as young adults, both physically and emotionally. Their living space becomes an expression of self. Often, dormitory rooms are sparsely furnished with bare walls and only basic furniture. Each person makes this room their own with items they bring from home, inherit from older siblings or upperclassmen, or purchase. No two rooms look alike. They are made unique by items the individual chooses as significant to creating a sense of home and comfort. In this paper I will explore the ways students identify home and what they choose to surround themselves with in terms of décor. Going deeper into the psychology of place making, do they identify home as this new space they have created, or does home remain the childhood place they left behind?

'Your entire life can fit into two suitcases': transnational academics and their material objects on the move

Author: Kirsten Heusgen (Fulda University of Applied Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

Transnational scholars are very mobile and many of them call more than one place 'home'. This multilocality has an impact on their individual material environment and belongings. But the usage and meaning of things might change when the national and sociocultural context is in motion.

Long Abstract

Mobility is an indispensable element in the academic career trajectories: A stay - or multiple stays - abroad is considered as a requirement of a successful career. Therefore we have an increasing number of students and highly qualified scholars who study or work abroad.

This mobility does not only mean the movement of a person between two or more places, but also the flow of objects. Every relocation is framed by objects and the mobile material environment consists of many different thing-categories: commodities for the every-day life, things for academic/professional life, memorials, souvenirs, books, electronic devises and ICT-objects, cloth, and so on. Especially when you live for a longer time in another country or move to a new destination one needs to make decisions: What do you what to take with you and which new things might be useful in another country? With those things a new 'home' is created - a process with many prospects and drawbacks.

The proposed paper is based on a series of narrative interview and ethnographic fieldwork (conducted with international scholars in Germany) with a focus on objects related to a transnational life and the interaction between transnational mobile humans and things. I would like to present some preliminary findings on how mobility and multilocality have an impact on the individual material contents with an exemplary view on interim arrangements and the process of appropriation and transformation.

Homes in the making: migration of people to former East Prussia in the first years after the end of World War II

Author: Marta Frączkiewicz (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń (Poland))  email

Short Abstract

The aim of my paper would be to prezent the process of settlement in the region of Warmia and Mazury in the first years after the end of World War, focusing on taming space of this new, completely strange place, so it would become a new home.

Long Abstract

At the end of World War II, the original inhabitants of Warmia and Mazury began to leave their homes in fear of the approaching troops of the Red Army. Their place was occupied by voluntary settlers from Central Poland, who ware encouraged by stories of abandoned farms migrated to areas of former East Prussia, as well as so-called "repatriates": people displaced by force from the Eastern Borderlands and people deported during the Operation "Wisła" in 1947.

The aim of my paper would be to present the process of this settelment in a chronological order focusing on taming space of this new, completely strange place, so it would become a new home. I would like to present the problems with which the settlers had to struggle, starting from the moment of arrival at the so-called Regained Territories, through the necessity of finding an abandoned house, where the family will be able to settle down, cleaning the home and the most necessary repairs, loot (which often was the only way to gather the most necessary equipment in an apartment), ways to protect property acquired, and a the new social order and relations prevailing in this strange and eclectic community in the first years after the end of world war II.

My presentation will be based on field research initiated in April 2015. It is part of the research for my doctoral thesis on the history of the region in the period from 1945 to 1953 year.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.