International Houses' Humanist Policies Facing Everyday Life. Comparative Ethnographies of Three Student Houses in France, United States and Canada

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:18
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Marion INK, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France
“Creating a better world” is what the International Houses (IH) in the United States and in France are trying to put in place since the 1920s. The founders of these IH, philanthropist and humanist politicians, have tried, each in their own way, to "create a social network of international friends by making students from all over the world live together”.

In order to analyze the impacts of these ideologies in practice, I conducted three ethnographical researches: at the IH in France, the IH in the US and a Graduate House in Canada. For four years, I conducted interviews, daily observations and collected archives.

First, I will compare the two IH’s historical data to understand how they applied institutional engineering throughout time.

Secondly, I will confront the ethnographic data collected in these two IH to a similar work in an "ordinary" residence in Canada. Thus, I will analyze how these three institutional engineerings could partly influence everyday interactions and relationships between residents. For instance, I will describe their experience of injunctions to the discovery, meeting and cosmopolitan socialization in each residence.

Thirdly, in my three field works I will describe residents’ daily life, on-line practices, social events, reunions after departures... We will see that all these in-going processes are interacting and negotiating within the institutional engineering. Thus, residents from the three houses are creating an order of interaction combining injunctions of socialization and interactional unpredictability.

By multi-level analysis, I will discuss the humanist ideology of the IH facing the realities of current international residents’ experiences and practices. The comparison of the historical, institutional and ideological backgrounds of three fieldworks, as well as their practices observed in everyday life, will point at the regularities and differences and will offer the opportunity to increase generalization.