Intimately Inhabiting Borders: Walking In-Between Belonging and Otherness through Constructions of Home

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This paper considers the ways in which borders are intimately inhabited through processes of attachment. It does so by foregrounding constructions of ‘home’ in the lives of migrant women who were part of a multicultural network in the North of England. Inspired by the concept of ‘the intimate’ it looks at how attachments–understood as connections located in modes of sensation–work to produce the border as a zone of practice by enabling a distinction between the norm of belonging and the exception of otherness. This paper thus adds to our understanding of the complexity of bordering by helping us understand better how borders are inhabited through attachments (in particular, familiarity, loss, hope, nostalgia and friendship) rather than simply traversed. It furthermore builds on our understanding of ‘home’ as an important geopolitical site beyond its association with mere safety or with danger by reflecting on how home operates more widely in relation to these broader processes of attachment. Drawing on the work of Homi Bhabha and his concept of the supplement, the paper argues that the observed spatial entanglement in lives lived is productive of an alternative logic of both/and–which highlights interconnection and co-constitution of scale–rather than the standard logics of either/or, which prioritises ranking and ordering of scale. Doing so, the paper demonstrates that opening up ideas of home, through drawing on ‘the intimate’ and focusing on questions of attachment, helps us to think through broader conceptions of life we encounter linked to the border beyond the reduction of human life, desire and allegiances to hierarchical accounts of social connections.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date22 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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