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People, Places and Possessions


Edited By Antony Buxton, Linda Hulin and Jane Anderson

Central to human life and experience, habitation forms a context for enquiry within many disciplines. This collection brings together perspectives on human habitation in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, social history, material culture, literature, art and design, and architecture. Significant shared themes are the physical and social structuring of space, practice and agency, consumption and gender, and permanence and impermanence. Topics range from archaeological artefacts to architectural concepts, from Romano-British consumption to the 1950s Playboy apartment, from historical elite habitation to present-day homelessness, from dwelling «on the move» to the crisis of household dissolution, and from interior design to installation art. Not only is this volume a rich resource of varied aspects and contexts of habitation, it also provides compelling examples of the potential for interdisciplinary conversations around significant shared themes.

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9. Homeless Habitus: An Archaeology of Homeless Places (Rachael Kiddey)


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9 Homeless Habitus: An Archaeology of Homeless Places


It has been suggested that, without ‘homelessness’, we would not be concerned by what ‘home’ means (Dovey 1985). Such is the primal nature of ‘home’ that the concept resists definition, like ‘love’ or ‘landscape’, ‘home’ is subjective and phenomenological. ‘Home’ involves ‘systems of settings’ (Rapoport 1995) – shelter, most probably, and intra-psychic relationships between people and things that are constructed differently for everyone. There exists no legal definition of ‘home’ yet ‘homeless’ is a social status defined and rationalised by legal discourse, the historical development of which has its roots in English medieval vagrancy statutes. It could be argued that homelessness is landlessness, a legacy and contemporary expression of the product of capitalism and enclosure. Homelessness has come to symbolise the archetypal ‘Other’ – a good example of Husserlian inter-subjectivity (Steinbock 1994). However, homeless people, like all other people, must exist and meet basic human needs somewhere, whether or not their appropriation of space is constructed as ‘illegal’ or ‘inappropriate’ behaviour. So how do homeless people make ‘home space’ in the city?

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