II Key themes

Chapter 5



Home: dislocation and relocation processes 93

The Homes Grid 95

Homeness: essentialist and constructivist approaches 95

Cartography of homeness 97

Figure 5.1 Cartography of homeness 98

Home: a central paradox 99

Archetypal images of home 102

Home: meanings and magic 104

Studying home 107

Delineating a framework to comprehend home 109

Concluding reflections and relational spacetime 113

References 115

Home: dislocation and relocation processes

The central theme of this book is involuntary dislocation, which refers to the abandonment, reluctantly, of the intimate space that a person considers home, as a result of various types of upheavals. Therefore, it is imperative to appreciate the significance ‘of the concept, image, and experience of home, of having a home, of losing one’s home and of losing one's home involuntarily’, as was stated in Chapter 2.

At the outset, the claim is that it is not possible for human beings to remain, for any length of time, in a state of dislocatedness, in total limbo, without any connection to a home or a sense of home, be it in lived reality or in thought, emotion, or imagination, felt explicitly or implicitly.

The very moment that any form of dislocation from home is experienced, immediately an image of a new and viable home is activated. Moreover, my argument is that an idealised image of home is always present in everybody, and the moment one senses that one’s own home space deviates substantially from it, then one instantaneously looks for an adjustment or replacement in order to minimise the gap between the experienced reality and the image of the idealised home. This process does not always take the form of a conscious and directed planning for an actual relocation. It may take the form of thinking, fantasising, or considering home, actively or passively, that could include reflections and feelings about the past, the present, the future, in various combinations. However, it may also take the form of a general sense of uneasiness accompanied by a diffused and unspecified longing for re-establishing a sense of a home-like and intimate space in an undetermined and vague manner. This theme will be explored further, in the context of nostalgic disorientation (see Chapter 7).

Therefore, dis-location and re-location are two sides of the same coin and one cannot be experienced without the other. To be reminded, the six segments of the involuntary dislocation process that were identified earlier (in Chapter 2) refer to dislocation (first, the sense that home no longer feels as home, then the fleeing from home) as well as to relocation (searching, finding, and inhabiting/engaging with a new home). Moreover, the overall process also includes the much-neglected part (the sixth segment), i.e. the struggle to make sense of all the impacts of all the segments, in some meaningful and coherent way. This is a longitudinal process, consisting of the movement ‘from dislocation to relocation’, and it does not have a clear ending or even a clear beginning. Degrees of dislocation are present in relocation and degrees of relocation are present in dislocation. While a person is involved in relocating (i.e. moving towards re-establishing a sense of home), at the very same time one is also experiencing most acutely the sense of being dislocated, of not being at home. Equally, while a person is involved in dislocating from one’s home, at the same time one has glimpses of the possibility of an alternative, more viable home.

This means that, in effect, involuntarily dislocated persons connect, explicitly or implicitly, with at least three categories of homes, in various combinations:

  • (a) Their actual home of origin or homes from their past history.
  • (b) Their current ‘homes’ that they inhabit and experience along the way to relocation and possibly resettlement.
  • (c) Their aspired and idealised homes, with varying degrees of concreteness.

These three homes seem to be the central points of reference for every involuntarily dislocated person, and they are closely interlinked. Whatever they think or feel about one category of home, inevitably it is influenced by their thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the other two categories. Moreover, all these tend to be experienced in heightened emotional states.

Therefore, it is helpful to develop a comprehensive schema, a grid, to depict these interconnections - the three categories of homes in relation to two possible evaluative positions.

The Homes Grid

Predominantly positive

Predominantly negative

Home/s of origin Current home/s

Aspired home/s

This Grid constitutes a framework to grasp the complexities of homes that not only involuntarily dislocated individuals but also all actors of the Interactional Matrix of Intervention are straggling with. It can also be used practically, in creative ways, as required, remembering that in most communications, these six types of homes are activated with unpredictable outcomes, causing a broad array of feelings, from the most painful to the most inspiring.

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