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No Obvious Home: the Public’s Dialogical Creation of Home During the Third Wave of Decolonization

Dr. Kesi Mahendran, Anthony English and Sue Nieland

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Open University

Milton Keynes, United Kingdom


The global crises we currently face, ecological, refugee-related and dealing with austerity arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic share a common feature. Together they have the capacity to call into question shared understandings of what constitutes the physical, political and psychological boundaries of home. Consensual understanding (social representations) of home, if unexamined, risks retaining primordial, stable, bounded and historically continuous dimensions. The focus of this article, to this end, is the public’s understanding of home. The “un-homing” techniques used by populist leaders are brought into dialogue with how citizens, as dialogical selves, talk about home. The contours of common-sense on belonging are being informed; it is proposed by a third wave of decolonization. Stimulus-led interviews (N = 76) were conducted in England, Germany, Ireland, Scotland and Sweden. Dialogical analysis shows the public use two social representations relating to (i) freedom of movement and (ii) how the world is organized. These social representations decolonize home beyond national/transnational boundaries towards the transglobal. Citizens, irrespective of degree of migration, navigate future (in) securities using intergenerational dialogue. This serves to anchor transglobal migration-mobility to intergenerational continuity and the possibilities of travelling together through life. Public dialogue, when diffracted into a spectrum of positions on home, has the capacity to counter black/white, us/them, xenophobic protectionism within nationalist populism. In conclusion, scientific studies which reveal the depths of public capacity may become centrally important to post-pandemic recovery.

She proposes that citizens whose sense of home crosses national boundaries are no longer a minority “an increasing number of people have no obvious home."

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