We are seeking submissions for a conference entitled "The Idea of Home", to be held at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, on November 1-2, 2010.
The Second World War was the catalyst for the uprooting and displacement of millions
of people, leading to the category of the refugee in western legal thought and the
perception of exile as a newly modern phenomenon. The loss of home and the mourning
of displacement, it has since been argued, became the core of the modern condition.
Theodore Adorno, exiled to America during the war years, was to write upon his
return to Germany that: “Dwelling, in the proper sense has become impossible”, and
that, it is “part of morality not to be at home in one’s home.” For Adorno, the home
could no longer be understood as a place of physical refuge, although exile also
taught him that language, rather than spatial territory, was what ultimately
constituted a sense of belonging. Since then, the loss of home and the impulse of
return have become universal themes of the recent history of migration.
Many scholars in recent decades have begun to refashion older notions of exile,
transferring the qualities of marginality, instability and loss into desirable
qualities of the postmodern condition, while at the same time asserting the home as
a myth. Nomadism and diasporism have become the dominant explanatory modes of
existence in a global, deterritorialised, world. The imagination of the utopian home
is now more often a virtual one, and even the phenomenon of videoing, or blogging
about, one’s home space online has transformed the association of privacy into one
of projection, instant transportation and mass communication. However as Eva
Hoffmann notes, the new postmodern scholarship of home and exile is problematic in
that it underestimates the sheer human cost of exile; it also leads to a dangerous
devaluing of the importance of actual space and territory in the politics of the
dispossessed. Many are still fighting, killing and dying, for soil, and for the
right of return to homelands.
This conference thus asks what forms the idea of home have taken since World War
Two. We invite papers that historicise the meanings of exile, homelessness and
displacement and/or those that explore the relationship between the concept of home
as it has been shaped by the refugee and migration experience, and the contrapuntal
notion of exile. We also invite consideration of the ideological function the
‘homeland’, as a site of yearning, has played in recent times and places. In some
cases, the ‘phantom homelands’ created out of nostalgic longing have also led to
real cases of extreme politics.
Further, we do not restrict considerations of home to national space. Scholars have
been considering the home as a site of resistance, conformity, or surveillance in
relation to the state. The ideas and ideals circulating around the postwar home in
cities and suburbia have attracted recent scholarly attention in a diverse range of
fields, and led to a new awareness of the role ideas of home have played in shaping
the politics, ethics and values of contemporary society. These are some of the ways
papers might address, and historicise, the idea of home since the Second World War:
the meanings attributed to it, and how time and place have shaped meanings of exile,
refuge, community, homeland and belonging in the 20th century.
Proposals should include a title, a 250-word abstract, a one-paragraph biographical
note on the speaker and full contact details. They should be addressed no later than
16 July, 2010 to email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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