CfP: UCL Society for Comparative Cultural Inquiry

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‘It is part of morality not to be at home in one’s home’ wrote Theodor Adorno in Minima Moralia.

For Adorno, dwelling was impossible and the private life indecent following the violence of twentieth century totalitarianism and the rise of capitalist consumer culture. At the same time, Hannah Arendt distinguished the public life of the polis, characterised by speech and action, from the private life of the oikos, related to labour, the domestic and the body, or what Arendt termed the ‘dark background of mere givenness’. Historic and ongoing feminist struggles over housework and wages have exposed the political stakes of precisely this ‘background’. Indeed, the contemporary significance of the home, and homelessness, is acutely apparent at both a local and global level.

So, what is it to be at home and what does one have when one has a home? Home is a space of rest and refuge, but also a place of discomfort and disquiet. If there is home then there is also the unheimlich, the uncanny element that, like Kafka’s Odradek, unsettles any intimacy. Home is where we recover when we are ill, and when we are not home we get homesick. We associate home with security and sanctity, but to be at home is not necessarily to be free from violence, intrusion or oppression. It may even be because home is imagined as an apolitical place that ideology is able to take root in it.

This interdisciplinary conference invites 15-20 minute papers from all disciplines that explore the concept of ‘home’ as a site of contention, transformation and social reproduction, as a space in which different forms of agency are both made and revoked. Questions papers might like to consider are: How is home imagined and to what ends is it evoked? How are the thresholds of privacy regulated, and to whose exclusion? Is home in crisis? How might we re-imagine or re-work the home?
Proposals for panels, performances, installations and workshops are also welcome, as well as creative critical work. Topics could include but are not restricted to:
- Philosophical approaches to home: ethics, ontology, the influence of philosophers’ domestic life on their work
- The nation as home: nationalisms, sovereignty, postcolonialism, liberation struggles
- Gender and sexuality at home: family, domestic and affective labour, the public/private divide, power dynamics
- Refuge, exile, migration, displacement, diaspora
- Representations of the home in film, theatre, television, literature
- Architecture of the home: experimentation, innovative solutions to changing lifestyles
- The place of home in different religious faiths and practices
- Capital at home: contemporary politics and economics, gentrification, the housing crisis, austerity, Occupy, homelessness
- Academic homes/homelessness in interdisciplinary work
- Historical and cultural specificities: the changing nature and understanding of the home across time and cultures (e.g. in Antiquity, the Early Modern period, the Victorian period)
- Psychology and affect of/at home: boredom, claustrophobia, loneliness
- Care/Health at home: adapting homes for disabled people, end of life care
- Alternative homes: institutions (prisons, hospitals, care homes), communes, kibbutzim, squats, foster homes, nomadism

We invite submissions from all disciplines, including but not limited to:
Anthropology; Sociology; Gender studies; Architecture and Town Planning; Literature; Critical theory; Film Studies; Photography; Politics and political theory; Economics; History; Modern Languages; Philosophy; Art; Psychology and Psychoanalysis; Cultural Studies; Translation Studies; Health and Medical Humanities.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, plus 5 key words and a short biographical statement (50 words), to by Friday 21st July.

The conference will be held on 26 and 27 October 2017.