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Habitat in the making: between expert mediations and the poetics of daily life

Convenors:
Francisco Cruces Villalobos (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia)
Fabio Dei (University of Pisa)
Chair:
Ben Highmore (University of Sussex)
Stream:
Home
Location:
VG 3.107
Start time:
27 March, 2017 at 8:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel examines processes and outcomes of the encounter between expert mediations and dwellers in the habitat. By focusing on devices, practices and narratives of home-making as objects of cultural analysis, we seek to capture their entanglement and the domestic imaginaries involved.

Long abstract:

With its more than 200 million copies, IKEA's catalogue is the book with the largest print run of the world. "Better Homes & Gardens" and "Good Housekeeping" are two of the world's five best-selling magazines. These features indicate to what extent contemporary domestic interiors are fascinating concretions of expert systems mediations in everyday life (Martín-Barbero, 1987; Giddens, 1990). Architects, furniture retailers, lifestyle channels, shelter publications, savoir-vivre treatises and domestic advice books pour out values and advice either incorporated in home-narratives or embodied in household spaces and goods. Nevertheless, the very idea of "habitat" implies a purposeful involvement on the part of the dwellers: an active search for individual and collective identity through practices of appropriation and signature of the intimate space -a home of one's own. The aim of this proposal is to examine the processes and outcomes of such encounter. We call for empirical cases documenting domestic negotiations (McElroy, 2006), interactions, and/or contestations between experts and lays in the making of the habitat. How to capture ethnographically their entanglement (Löfgren, 2014)? How can it be theoretically rendered beyond the commonplace metanarratives of consumerism vs. expertise? What dialectics emerge between invention and tradition, standardization and personalization, autonomy and hegemony? Contributions may focus on concrete domestic devices and arrangements; on practices of house-building, home-improvement and customization; on narratives of the self and the home.