One-day workshop organised by the Centre for Studies of Home

Traditionally, home is imagined as a specific place, a site of stability, continuity, safety, and familiarity. Yet, homelife is also characterised by mobility and temporariness. Medieval households were constantly on the move. Sailors, soldiers, merchants, peddlars and travelling artisans have long traversed land and sea, and servants, apprentices, and lodgers typically inhabited the houses of others – at least for a significant part of the life cycle. The chaos and disruptions of war and natural disaster have also uprooted millions of people from their homes (and homelands) and forced them to spend indeterminate periods of time in temporary conditions. How does the time-limited nature of these residences affect home-making practices, and what can it tell us about the function and meaning of home and domesticity?

This one-day workshop explores the manner in which mobility and temporariness impact upon ideas and practices of home and domesticity. Central questions include: What kinds of domestic practices, material cultures, homemaking strategies and feelings about home are related to mobile or temporary circumstances? What theoretical and methodological challenges can we face when dealing with mobility or temporariness and how could these difficulties be overcome? How can people in temporary or mobile circumstances negotiate control over their own space and everyday life? When is mobility something to aspire to?

The aim is to bring together researchers working in different disciplines to explore similarities and differences between time periods, geographical locations and circumstances.  Furthermore, the objective is to discuss how we might relate temporary and mobile domesticities to larger questions about actor agency and shifts in economic, social, and political structures.

Submissions can take the form of 15-20 minute papers, but we also welcome submissions of less traditional formats – proposals for film, performances, and artworks would be particularly enthusiastically received. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Momentary homemaking
  • The material culture of portability
  • The sense of home/belonging or homelessness/alienation in relation to mobility
  • Mobile and transportable housing and housing design
  • Institutional and charitable responses to mobility
  • How do social identities and stages in the life cycle affect ideas about temporary living?
  • The extent and scale of mobile and temporary homes from the local to the global
  • Remembering and reproducing home and homeland from a distance
  • Escaping home through mobility

We encourage submissions both from academics as well as non-academics working with related themes.

Provisional programme:
10.30–11.30Panel 1
Amanda Stevens (Open University/National Railway Museum): Home on the Rails
Dina Gusejnova (University of Sheffield): The Many Lives of Tarpaulin: thinking about temporary homes on the radio
Charles Fawell (University of Chicago): Neighborhoods Afloat: Living Together on the ‘East-of-Suez’ Steamships of the French and British Empires, c. 1880 – 1930
11.30–11.45Tea and coffee
11.45–12.30Panel 2
Janet C. Bowstead (Royal Holloway, University of London): Changing journeys into journeyscapes: enhancing women’s control over their domestic violence mobility
Julie Le Hegarat (Indiana University Bloomington): Cenotaph
13.30–14.30Panel 3
Michael Pearce (Independent Scholar): ‘For my Lord to goe to Londone of stuffe’ – Elite mobility and homemaking in the 1630s.
14.45–15.45Panel 4
Ute Sonnleitner (ÖGB- Department of Education/ Styria): ‘Bohemia’ and ‘Home Sweet Home’ – Actors‘ and Actresses‘ mobilities 1850-1950
Kathryn White (University of Birmingham): “Tommy’s Home”: Temporary Domesticity of the YMCA’s Huts in the First World War
Valerie Burton & Catherine McCausland (Memorial University Newfoundland): “At Home” to the Sea: Embroidering and Historicizing the Un/Settled Newfoundland Family
15.45–16.00Tea and coffee
16.00–17.00Keynote and discussion
Alastair Owens (Queen Mary University of London): Restless domesticity: poverty, mobility and material culture in Victorian London

If you are interested in attending the conference please register here. Places are free but booking is essential. 

Further information can be found on the workshop blog