Accepted Paper:

Everyday life, debt and death: an ethnographic account of vulnerability in north Dublin  


Caitríona Coen (NUI,Maynooth, Ireland)

Paper short abstract:

My fieldwork considers the culturally encouraged collaboration between the citizen, the property market and the state and the dissolution of that relationship when poor building regulation and inept local government turned consumers into victims.

Paper long abstract:

During the Celtic Tiger period in Ireland there occurred a historical shift in eligibility of homeownership. Today many of these new mortgage holders are experiencing those ramifications. My anthropological fieldwork considers how this change became a stranglehold for sixty families. In this paper, I use ethnography to understand how people's eligibility for homeownership caused their complete social vulnerability. This vulnerability was constructed from poor building regulation, inept local government, a strained judicial system and failure to rally significant public support. The residents of The Priory Hall apartment complex located in north County Dublin, Ireland became homeless due to fire safety issues. At the time of their evacuation no resident was in mortgage arrears. For two years they were involuntarily embroiled in a carousel of state bureaucracy. They were abandoned by the very state agencies tasked with protecting the 'family home'. A suicide was necessary to see a resolution offered. My work considers the politics of 'eligibility' by considering the ways in which my research participants went from being private home owners, an "ideal" citizen in contemporary Ireland, to the neo-disposed. Methodologically, one of my greatest challenges was interacting with a group of people who had become quite media savvy and well known nationally. They avoided me for a time as my research was neither immediate exposure nor a fast track to a resolution process. Here, my years of training both practically and theoretically enabled me to both defuse tense situations and negotiate delicately and respectfully.

Panel P045
Tracing eligibilities: moralities, performances, practices (EASA Network for Anthropology of Law and Rights)