Creating ‘Home’ Away from Home: The Home Making Practices of Female Refugees in Greece

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Chrysanthi ZACHOU, American College of Greece-Deree, Greece
This paper focuses on refugees’ perceptions of home and homeland as well and their homemaking practices in Greece. Based on participant observation and in-depth interviews with female refugees in different reception facilities in Athens and the surrounding areas, the paper explores these refugees’ efforts to symbolically and physically recreate homeland and ‘home’ in a variety of ways. Having experienced violence, multiple losses, separation from family and the destruction of their social and communal networks, they face multiple additional challenges in the host society associated with their transient status as asylum seekers, their racialization and exclusion due to their ethnicity and/or religion and their uncertainty about the future. Using various homemaking practices, they try to turn the (shared) physical spaces in the controlled and surveilled institutional settings in which they currently reside (i.e. refugee shelters, camps) into ‘homes’ for themselves and their families. Through their day-to day practices, daily routines and material artifacts, they try to instill a sense of ‘normalcy’ into their lives, renegotiate identity and belonging and symbolically recreate home away from home to counter their feelings of homelessness and uprootedness.