Home Tours: A New Way of Comparative Investigation into ‘Post-Migration' Everyday Life

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:35
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Paolo BOCCAGNI, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
This paper assesses the promises and pitfalls of ‘home tours’, i.e. in-depth ethnographies and go-alongs in dwellings and ordinary living milieus, as an innovative way of studying the daily life experience of immigrant newcomers, compared with long-settled natives (and, transnationally, with their significant others left behind). Methodologically, this research option requires particular sensibility in negotiating access to the domestic realm, in grasping its material bases and the ways of using domestic spaces, as necessary to appreciate natives’ and aliens’ ways of making themselves (more or less successfully) at home. Substantively, a comparative and cross-cultural ethnography of the spatial organization of home enables a unique understanding of migrants’ attitudes and expectations towards receiving and sending communities, and of the material resources available for them to negotiate such relations. What is displayed in home spaces, where, and why; how people orient functionally and symbolically their interior spaces; how such spaces are differentially occupied and experienced along gender and generational lines; what kind of memories are displayed, and what specific rituals are performed – on similar micro-underpinnings of post-migration everyday life, little insight can be gained unless through ethnography in a variety of settings and scales. While taking stock of the emerging literature on migration and home, this paper builds on an extended research programme in which home tours are both a source of micro-data and of macro-insights, once replicated across multi-ethnic societies.