Remaking Home: A 'journey' of a Lifetime

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Luis Eduardo PEREZ MURCIA, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Drawing on the life experiences of those who in the aftermath of conflict have fled within Colombia, this paper explores the extent to which and, in which ways, conflict-induced displaced people remake home. The paper’s overarching argument is that despite displacement consistently results in a significant loss of home, home can be remade on the move. Analysis of detailed interviews shows that following conflict and displacement, the process of remaking home not only entails the reconstruction of a material shelter but foremost the reconstruction of a social world, a familiar landscape, and the emotional and existential feeling of being at ‘home’. Material and symbolic dimensions of well-being therefore play a central role in the reconstruction of home. Indeed, for many, the reconstruction of home signified the reconstruction of their place in the world. The empirical findings also show that the reconstruction of home tend to take years, decades and even generations and it is in part shaped by experiences of violence, the extent and persistence of persecution, and the ethnic identity and life stage of those compelled to move. Many of those who have fled after being raped or having witnessed relative being killed, consistently struggle to remake home. The same appears to be true for those who belong to the black and indigenous communities and who tend to root home in their ‘ancestral land’ and the elderly who aspire to die ‘at home’. The paper ends by highlighting that both social constraints and individual decisions and aspirations interplay over time and space in the process of remaking home.