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Home.... A Place Among Places

Image by Misha Gordin

A home, it is “our first universe” and “our first world” – “What human beings know first- and never forget – are “the intimate values of inside space” (Bachelard, Casey 1998)

Home is an interesting concept. We are all familiar with the term home (casa, acasă, الصفحة الرئيسية, or Главная......). For many its where you live, your house, a property that belongs to you, a place that you feel safe in. Home is much more than that though, it’s a ‘place, among places' where you live and feel a connection too, in many ways it defines us, and provides a construct from which to feel a sense of belonging and identity. Casey sums this up nicely when he writes,

“Whatever is true for space and time, this much is true for place: we are immersed in it and could not do without it. To be at all - to exist in any way – is to be somewhere, and to be somewhere is to be in some kind of place. Place is as requisite as the air we breathe, the ground on which we stand, the bodies we have. We are surrounded by places. We walk over and through them. We live in places, relate to others in them, die in them. Nothing we do is unplaced”. (Casey 1998)

In Leviathan, Hobbs states that, “No man therefore can conceive anything, but he must conceive it in some place” Therefore to conceive of home we must understand where we place it geographically, emotionally and in what context.

It is that context of home, and of particular interest is the context of home after conflict - how do families rebuild their homes in and amongst the ruins of social fracture and ethnic fear? There have been many dogmatic and formulaic attempts to build peace in war torn communities however these have been very much a top down foreign approach, often overlooking the fundamentals of a sustainable localised social cohesion. Barakat supports this in his paper where he states that, “Local perceptions of recovery frequently focus on reaffirmation of identity and regaining the control of lives and livelihoods at the individual and community level. However, contemporary reconstruction interventions frequently ignore the demands for identity and control”. (Barakat, 2010)

Therefore, UNIFORM NOVEMBER explores the idea that these buildings provide the means to develop post-conflict places that will facilitate the emergence of home, a place where trust and tolerance can be considered once more. Bevan argues that “buildings gather meaning to them by their everyday function, by their presence in the townscape and by their form. They can have meaning attached to them as structures or sometimes, simply act as containers of meaning and history” (Bevan2016). I suggest that these buildings had meaning before war, they redefined themselves during war and new meanings were earned. Now in post conflict a new layer of meanings can be earned, means that can be read alongside those of the past, thus taking a positive stance when you consider Hirst’s quote,

"War is not just technique, a clash of forces the outcome of which is given by the capacity of the weapons on respective sides and decided by the resulting causality lists. War is also symbolic, symbols affect the capacity of the soldiers and civilians to fight and to suffer. They also help them to understand war, both as conduct - to see models of bravery, competence and endurance - and in terms of placing themselves, knowing where they are and why" (Hirst, 2005).

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