Accepted paper:

Heimweh/Homelonging: deportation, storytelling and the lived experience of home

Authors:

Christine Moderbacher (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Halle)
Annika Lems (Max Planck Institut for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

In our presentation we will explore the means and possibilities of approaching how being-at-home or being-without-home is actually lived by moving towards a genuinely existential understanding of the way people connect to places of belonging, focusing on the ethnographic video project Homelonging.

Paper long abstract:

Our time, an era some have reluctantly come to call postmodern, is marked by travel and migration. John Berger even describes the feeling of uprootedness this brings with it to be the "quintessential experience" of today's world. In many theoretical texts migrants and refugees have been celebrated as champions of a placeless, deterritorialised, or dis-placed imagination of belonging. Although the fascination with a sense of homelessness that marks these works seems to echo a sentiment many Western intellectuals can identify with, the question of how being-at-home or being-without-home is actually lived often remains unanswered. In our presentation we will explore the means and possibilities of approaching these questions by moving towards a genuinely existential understanding of the way people connect to places of belonging. Attempting to move away from conventional textual interpretations, we will focus on the experimental ethnographic video project Heimweh/Homelonging, in which we engaged with the potentials of visual representations of home and belonging. Zooming in on an unconventional story of displacement - the story of the forty‚Äźfive years old Austrian Gabi who was deported from the United States after she had lived there for over fifteen years - the project throws light on the ambiguous interplay between emplacement and displacement in a world of movement. Using the camera as a storytelling tool that involves narrative, bodily and sensorial dimensions of home, we will discuss the possibilities of combining contemporary video art and anthropology in creating a more nuanced understanding of emplacement.

panel P10
Imaginaries of home