Irish society is experiencing a prolonged housing and homelessness crisis, acting as a case study of an ill of neoliberal society. A combination of connected dynamics, from the withdrawal of the state from social housing, historical deregulation of banking and finance, housing becoming a target for investment by individuals to global firms, a bias towards interventions on the demand rather than supply side by government, alongside insufficient supports to people at risk of homelessness, have produced this malaise. With emergency accommodation at over-capacity for nearly a decade, housing insecurity pervasive, and generations excluded from home ownership, home has become a focus of acute concern.
We should note that the conference takes place in a very particular place: Limerick and the Shannon region, where the soon to be inaugurated University of the Shannon will kindly host us. Limerick gives us an exemplary piece of literature on the broken home in Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, whose popularity is also linked with romantic longing for the homeland by a diaspora. Limerick and Clare have a notable place in community research, through the work of the Harvard Irish Mission. Today some of the best urban ethnographies of neighbourhood in Ireland have been conducted in Limerick – and particular neighbourhoods have become barometers of the success and failure of housing policy. Limerick artist Seán Keating captured the complexities of building a national home in his painting. The Treaty of Limerick 1691 has defined Irish history, as the distribution of land, its monopolisation and insecurity of tenure became its primary driver. The limits of who belonged and who the nation would be a home to was expressed in the Limerick Boycott against the Jewish community in the early 20th Century. Ardnacrusha power station lies a little way up the Shannon. It represents a state that could carry out big infrastructure projects, even though it was poor, bringing electricity to homes, and through this into modern standards of comfort.
Home can be understood in a general sense as belonging, rootedness, comfort, intimacy, reciprocity, and security. It denotes much more than buildings and dwellings, referring to ownership of space in a general sense. Home is found in family, neighbourhoods, suburbs, townlands, community, countries and even our planet and environment. It is also imagined and virtual as well as concrete, existing in memory, imagination, and media. It comes most clearly into view perhaps in its absence, when it is lacking or distant or in question, for instance for migrants, travellers, refugees or the homeless. Homes are a resource and is prone to scarcity through exclusion and monopolisation.
Quite abstract units of interdependence are conceptualised as home – such as home markets, home fronts, welfare states as the peoples’ home, and of course economy itself derives from oikos (household). Senses of home are complex – people can be at home in multiple locales and feel familiarity and strangeness with place simultaneously. We should also not be naive about home as a pure good, as it a place where some are trapped, isolated in, exploited in, and tyrannised in. It is a place to escape for many. It is also a place where others are made to feel unwelcome and are kept out from, as exercises in walling illustrate.
We welcome papers addressing the theme of ‘home’ in a specific or general way. The SAI Annual Conference is always a generalist conference and welcomes papers on any them.
HOME TERRITORY AND RIGHTS
Different Ways of Making Home
Deadline: 17 December, 2021
Send To: SAIConference2022@gmail.com
*Please include name, affiliation, contact details, title and 200 word description of paper.