ABSTRACT

A cursory glance at the literature on home suggests that it is a complex and multidimensional category and can be considered one of those ‘essentially contested concepts’ (Gallie 1955-1956). Within the social sciences an anti-essentialist conception of home has emerged that has contributed to this contestability; it argues that the nature of home in a transnational, multicultural and global world has no fixed address. The first part of this chapter outlines the origins of this position with an assessment of the relationship between modernity and home. I then consider how the anti-essentialist view of home has been conceptualised through a binary and interactionist logic in which the relationship between home and otherness is perceived in negative and reductionist terms. For example, in the constitution of home, encounters with the other are always encounters with those who are culturally different and, as a consequence, this difference is excluded and marginalised in the process of homemaking. For the anti-essentialist position, the meaning of home is based on encounters which are intercultural rather than intra-cultural. The latter part of the chapter contextualises and critiques the anti-essentialist account by drawing on various intellectual frameworks such as theories of intersubjectivity, post-structuralism and the discourses on transnationalism and mobility.