P006
The government of the house, 'life' and 'the good life'

Convenors:
Adam Kuper (Boston University)
Benoît de L' Estoile ( CNRS, Ecole normale supérieure/ PSL )
Chair:
Stephen Gudeman (University of Minnesota/ Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Discussant:
André Dumans Guedes (Museu Nacional/UFRJ)
Location:
U6-6
Start time:
20 July, 2016 at 14:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Starting from the various renderings of oikonomia, as 'domestic economy' or "government of the house", we invite papers that explore the house as at once a socio-spatial and a moral category, and an institution that is central to concerns about family, making a living, and leading a 'good life'.

Long abstract:

Oikonomia, a Greek term usually translated as domestic economy is used by Aristotle to refer to the "government of the oikos", the house/ family, by contrast with politikè, the government of the citizens in the polis (de L'Estoile 2014). We aim to bring together in a comparative perspective, papers based on a diversity of ethnographic situations that analyse the house as at once a socio-spatial and a moral category, and an institution that is central to concerns about family, making a living, and leading a 'good life'. For many, the house is a physical shelter essential for maintaining 'life', in the hope of providing a safe place from the "world" (as the English say, a man's house is his castle). It is also a "base" (Gudeman) for making a living, in contrast to and in association with the market. Finally, it is often central to the project of leading a 'good life', and to being recognized as a proper person. Striving for autonomy (self-government), the house is confronted with politikè, both with other houses, and various governing bodies (chief,landlord, public policies and state agencies, NGOs). The notion of oikos may also be related to Lévi-Strauss's characterization of la maison, as a "moral person possessing a domain".