Lloyd, Justine, and Ellie Vasta, eds. Reimagining Home in the 21 (st) Century, Northampton: Edward Elgar, 2017. xii + 246 pages. Hardcover, $135.00.
Editors Justine Lloyd and Ellie Vasta have collected together articles concerning the social and political meaning of home from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies. This anthology spans a variety of topics that center around the concept of home: "Who can and cannot speak in the name of home? Who has the power to define and regulate visions of home that exclude and deny others? Where are the visions of home that recognize rather than close off difference and diversity? Where is home practiced and by whom?" (p. 5). In an era of mass migration and echoes of colonialism, the definition of home reveals much about what a society values and how people make meaning of transcontinental lives. Refreshingly, many of the articles concentrate on Australia, an often-overlooked geography in the English-language dialogue about migration. The articles range from densely theoretical, to specific ethnography to, autoethnographical self-reflection.
The first two sections are organized around the theoretical contributions of classical sociologists (the figure of "the stranger" as articulated by Georg Simmel in 1950, and "dwelling" as first discussed by Martin Heidegger in 1971 in his essay "Building Dwelling Thinking" and revived by John Urry in 2000). The latter half eschew a specific theoretical perspective, instead relying on the well-known categories of "publicness" and "materiality" while the authors still return to the leitmotifs of "the stranger" and "dwelling."
The articles offer useful insights into how home-making practices reflect social structures. Yet, while the desire for a cross-discipline dialogue is commendable, the collection feels disjointed due to the varying levels of theoretical engagement. For example, the chapters that bookend the project seem incompatible. Norbert Ebert's "Reflections on home and identity in late modernity" (p. 21-35) is a protracted sociological examination of precarity and normativity while Sian Supski's offering, "Kitchen as home: Shifting meanings" (p.224-237), is a reflexive meditation on the meaning of that space, informed by conversations with women who have also designed their food preparation spaces. Both were thought provoking, but did not seem to belong in the same volume. That being said, as part of the goal of this...