Dis)comforts of home: historical and cultural perspectives 
Stella Butter (University of Koblenz-Landau)
Nourit Melcer Padon (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
Stella Butter (University of Koblenz-Landau)
Zuzanna Bulat Silva (University of Wrocław)
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VG 3.107
Start time:
28 March, 2017 at 8:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

Our panel works with the concept of 'comfort' to engage with idea(l)s and practices of home-making from an interdisciplinary and historical perspective. 'Comfort' looms large in debates on home and dwelling because it taps into not only material but also social and emotional dimensions of home.

Long Abstract

Ideals and practices of home are bound up with notions of comfort or comfortableness. A case in point are the fierce debates over brutalist architecture: many people reject this architectural style due to its alleged failure to look and feel comfortable. Perceptions of 'comfortable environments' are intertwined with cultural traditions, group tastes and technological developments, but are also individualistic as each person may have different comfort zones. 'Comfort' arguably looms large in contemporary debates on home because it taps into the different dimensions of home. Hence, 'feeling comfortable at home' may not only refer to a physical or material dimension, but also include social and emotional aspects. One may feel un/comfortable even in one's language. Moreover, an individual may experience feelings of discomfort or embarrassment when behavioural norms are violated or one's own transgression of norms is sanctioned. The aim of this panel is to explore the usefulness of the concept of 'comfort' for engaging with idea(l)s and practices of home-making from a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and historical perspective.

We invite papers from various disciplines that cover but are not limited to the following questions: How is 'comfort' / 'comfortableness' defined, invoked, represented, or conceptualized in the material (e.g. interview data, stories, pictures) you are concerned with? How does this specific notion of comfort connect to broader discourses on comfort and to issues of 'home'? How does the notion of 'comfort' and 'home' vary across cultures and time? What are the ideological implications of the way 'comfort' and 'home' are conceptualized?

Accepted papers: