Safe as houses? Turbulence, doubt and disquiet in contemporary domestic spheres (EN)
Tom McDonald (The University of Hong Kong)
Razvan Nicolescu (Imperial College London)
Sabina Stan (Dublin City University)
Adam Drazin (University College London)
Caroline Humphrey (Cambridge University)
Invited workshops
Wednesday 11 July, 11:30-13:15, 14:30-16:15, Thursday 12 July, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

This workshop explores the relationship between the domestic sphere and the concept of uncertainty. We aim to re-evaluate the home's frequent conception as a site of filiation, family and safety, by considering the growing body of work arguing it also objectifies social tensions and anxiety.

Long abstract:

Anthropology has long employed the concept of the house to expound upon themes of cohesion, social order and stability. For example, Lévi-Strauss argued 'house-based societies' achieve social cohesion by materializing unity through the home. Bourdieu posited that domestic spaces are made meaningful through structured configurations of practice.

More recently, domesticity itself has become a major research area. Issues such as the moral economy of households, household routines (Shove), comfort (Miller), and care (Drazin) came under anthropological scrutiny, although still essentially focusing on stability and continuity.

These developments are mirrored by a growing anthropological interest in emotions, uncertainty, and risk. This workshop will critically engage with both domestic spaces and uncertainty, by challenging notions of homes as sites of self-assurance and comfort, and asking whether domestic spaces are also socially constructed through uncertainty and disquiet.

Papers are invited that engage with how new threats interact with contemporary global forces to unsettle domestic environments. Possible themes include: conflicts between concepts of home, household and family; the impact of changes in ownership regimes, planning and credit policies, or real estate speculation on home-making practices; homes and vulnerability (in areas affected by migration, disasters or foreclosures). How are homes considered as sites of decay and dirt, rather than comfort and cleanliness, with increasing concerns over energy waste and underuse of space? How do hazards such as infectious diseases, pollution, global warming and the world financial crisis create 'unseen uncertainties' in the home?