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Insurgent Domesticities

Collaborator/Fellow, Columbia University Centre for the Study of Social Difference. With PI Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi (Barnard College, Columbia, NY).

‘Home’ has been used as a boundary-forming device to identify, homogenize, normalize and exclude. Composed of family and nation, and attendant notions of their sanctity, ‘home’ is no longer open to reinterpretation and reconfiguration; it is pressured as a lived space. Insurgent Domesticities brings into focus the insurgent environments, objects, and practices that make up the maintenance, creation, labor, and intimacies of home. Our collective investigates the more processual aspects of domesticity, to interrogate the politics of ‘home,’ through histories of solidarity, disobedience, stealth, and militancy, from the scale of the clothesline to that of the state.

The Insurgent Domesticities working group is committed to liberatory historiographical approaches and scholarly caregiving, orientations that transcend ideological frames deploying ‘domesticity’ to organize, limit, or subjugate life, time, people, and places, from the non-male figure to the non-capitalistic landscape. It draws on practices that emerge from and constitute interiority, which transform the figurations, materiality, and narrations of ‘home’ and ‘domesticity’ within the present worldwide protectionist climate, in which ‘home’ is still a fiercely pursued, maintained, and guarded space. Dissident domesticities, bound up in questions of governance, global economies, (geo)political borders, war, labor, and ecological crisis, call for emancipating, subversive, and collaborative research approaches that straddle or sit between territories, institutions, states, and national space. Through insurgent domesticities of laundry, gardens, cats, kitchens, the home office, the migrant camp, the kindergarten, the settlement, the housing block, the border wall, the reserve, or the reservation, we center histories of the active construction of home through occupancy, the making of new territories by transgressing boundaries, and the transcending or transforming of oppressive domestic structures.  

Insurgent Domesticities indexes and reveals inequalities and injustices cohering social, cultural and political aspects of domesticity. Because domesticity is involved in the production of identity, security, comfort, and belonging, as well as strategies necessary to maintain the status quo, it serves as a double-edged tool that can be confining or emancipatory in its different guises. To combat the pliancy of its shapeshifting between safeguarding and critiquing notions of family and nation, migration and home, our collective proposes the fundamental understanding that domesticity is a politicized field of many interdependencies, from the sociospatial to the material and aesthetic, which demand regular negotiation and theorization.

Insurgent Domesticities is a working group under the CSSD theme, Women Creating Change, which engages distinguished feminist scholars from diverse fields who focus on contemporary global problems affecting women and on the roles women play in addressing these problems.

Project Director: Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi

Graduate Assistant: Javairia Shahid

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