Seminar One: Paradoxes and histories of home space
11 December 2012, the Open University, Milton Keynes, Walton Hall, MK7 6AA
This opening seminar brought together an interdisciplinary groups of researchers to begin to develop an analytical and historical narrative in terms of domestic spaces, policy change and user experience of ‘home’ spaces. Some papers and presentations can be downloaded from the right hand column.
The seminar began with an introductory paper by Dr Ellie Jupp, (The Open University), which sought to set out some overall theoretical thoughts on the notion of home, especially as it relates to gender, and ideas of the public and the private; as well as introduce some substantive themes which the seminars will consider, including policy and governance, care and the lifecourse, and methods. You can download the paper opposite.
The next two papers both brought historical perspectives to bear on institutional spaces and feelings of homeliness. Dr Jane Hamlett (Royal Holloway, University of London) presented a paper entitled 'At home in the institution': asylum, school and lodging house interiors in late 19th/early 20th century, drawing on a recent ESRC project examining design and experience in institutions with very different groups of residents, across class and gender in particular (downloadable opposite). The paper drew out different ways in which versions of domesticity were evoked as part of regimes of education, treatment and control, and also suggested ways in which these regimes were experienced by residents. Dr Janet Fink (The Open University) spoke on a paper entitled Show homes: presenting and representing children's residential care in the mid-twentieth century. The paper used a range of visual sources to discuss the history of the National Children’s Home, from archived publicity material and plans, to images posted online by ex-residents of the homes, to suggest the contested history of these spaces and what they tell us about changing understandings of childhood, care and welfare.
In the afternoon two papers considered shifting meanings of home in social policy and education settings across the lifecourse. Professor Christine Milligan (Lancaster University) spoke on a paper entitled Ageing in Place: reconfiguring the meaning of home, in which she spoke about shifting material, emotional and affective experiences of the home as the care and health needs of older people increase. Both the paper and presentation are downloadable, opposite. Finally Dr Peter Kraftl (Univesity of Leicester) presented a paper called Home- and family-like spaces in alternative education: a comparative perspective, which drew attention to the rise in new kinds of ‘alternative’ learning spaces, including homeschooling, Steiner Schools, Forest Schools and Care Farms, which could be seen to draw on different ideas of the home, the family and the intimate in their approach to learning. You can download this presentation oppposite.
At the end of the day, Professor Alison Blunt (Queen Mary, University of London) drew out some themes from the day including materiality/emotionality; the importance of the temporal as well as the spatial; issues of built form and change; different forms of subjectivity and relationality in homes; issues of value and resources. She also raised questions about what the contemporary language of the home might be in social policy, and how we might understand the home as a way of life beyond the domestic, and/or as an opening or threshold between different spheres. Also throughout the day discussions were held among participants about the different values, feelings, disciplines and methods involved in considering the notion of home.