24-25 June 2004
Venue: Room VG06, Vernon Square Campus, SOAS, London
The notion of 'home' has been central to mankind throughout history. Modernity problematised this notion, gave the search for ‘home’
new poignancy. The modern individual, living in a universe where 'all that is solid melts into air' has had to redefine the concept
of home in relation to the changing roles of man and woman, to renegotiate his/her identity within his/her specific histories and
locations. The widespread experience of migration has required a re-mapping of connections between the self, home and the community.
'Home' has acquired a new importance in today's ‘global village’ of transnational corporations where large categories like ‘nation’,
‘first/third world’, etc. have been dramatically destabilised. Moreover, quests for the culturally perfectly located ‘homes’,
exemplified by religious fundamentalism, neo-Nazism, etc., point to the urgent need to address the politics of home today.
The search for the location in which the self is 'at home' has been one of the primary projects of modern literature all over the
world. This workshop's objective is to map the narratives of 'home' in South Asian literature from the advance of modernity on the
subcontinent till the present day. It aims to read more than the domestic into representations of the home, to explore not only the
geographical, but also the psychological and material connotations of 'home'. Its goal is to disassemble the concept of 'home' in
all its incarnations - as confinement, as stability, as security, as myth and as desire.
Our objective is to problematise ‘home’ and its experience in different contexts and in different ways. Martin and Mohanty, for
instance, engage with the notion of 'being home' ('the place where one lives within familiar, safe, protected boundaries') and of
'not being home' ('the realization that home is an illusion of coherence and safety based on exclusion of specific histories of
oppression and resistance, the repression of differences even within oneself'). We aim to investigate if and how home changes its
significations when articulated from different locations, in different languages and by different subjects, paying particular
attention to ideological determinants like gender and class. The parameters of ‘home’ in Diaspora writing and media, particularly
film, will also be explored.
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