The unhomely home : women, home-lessness and the unheimlich

MCCARTHY, Lindsey (2015). The unhomely home : women, home-lessness and the unheimlich. In: Housing Studies Association Conference, York, 8-10 April 2015.

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In this paper I explore how officially defined homeless women negotiate home in the context of their homelessness. Discussion interweaves empirical data on homeless women’s meanings of home and homelessness with the Freudian notion of the unheimlich. An uncanny process of inversion was at work, whereby the supposedly familiar domestic sphere of the house – commonly associated with restfulness and security through the exclusion of fear, anxiety and upheaval – turns into an alien space. The body of literature on homelessness has largely neglected this concept so far. On the basis of semi-structured interviews, participant-produced photographs, and follow-up interviews with twelve women in contact with a range of homelessness services in the north of England, this paper argues for a questioning of the familiarity and homeliness of our most familiar environment: the family, domestic home. It suggests that alienation and homelessness can be felt within the household itself. This paper furthers Kaika’s (2004: 281) observation that querying the familiarity of the home is an act of subversion, turning on its head the binary between home and homelessness by insisting that each is implicated in the other. This paper additionally contributes to existing work in the field of housing studies by employing the concept of the unheimlich to frame the arguments presented here: that the unhomely and homelessness can be found within the domestic house itself.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research
Depositing User: Sarah Ward
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2015 11:53
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:02

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