Keynote @EUGEO on Lessness: Recentering the politics of home

Today I will open the 7th EUGEO Congress in conjunction with the 51st Conference of Irish Geographers, here in the west of Ireland – Galway City. The theme for the 2019 conference is Re-Imagining Europe’s Future Society and Landscapes.  This is one of the largest gathering of Geographers in the world, alongside the RGS-IBG (UK) and the AAG (USA).

In my keynote I will situate my grounded critical approach to homelessness, as I have developed in my research it in the last 10 years. This is essentially a call to de-instutionalize our approach to the matter and to cease seeing ‘homelessness’ as in opposition to idealized notions of ‘home’. The latter needs to be re-thought in their entirety in order to tackle the root of housing precarity, and of the trauma associated with it. These are key themes that I am developing at the Urban Institute, through the Life at the Margins research theme.

Thank you to Kathy Reilly (Galway) for the invitation and support. The abstract of my intervention can be found below.

Abstract for EUGEO conference
On Lessness: Recentering the politics of home.
Michele Lancione
m.lancione@sheffield.ac.uk

Homelessness is one of the strongest cultural signifiers of the contemporary urban age. It works as a machine intersecting structural economic inequalities with cultural stigmatisation, on top of which a whole assemblage of personal traumatic experiences, institutional policing, and charitable interventions flourish. Despite its pervasiveness, homelessness is still framed as a ‘phenomenon’, a social ‘issue’ amongst others to be dealt with: homelessness as the negation of ‘home’. But what if homelessness is not the exception arising from the lack of shelter, but instead the full and most quintessential representation of what ‘home’ is within capitalistic modes of organising and being? In other words, what if ‘homelessness’ cannot be solved, unless one is ready to fundamentally alter the parameters of ‘home’? This keynote address ‘homelessness’ as a socio, cultural and economic process configured within an exclusionary understanding of ‘home’ and assembled through a number of governmentalities, which are identified with the notion of ‘lessness’. Through several ethnographic vignettes, the fundamental relationship between ‘lessness’ and ‘home’ is showed, revealing the impossibility of any reconfiguration without radical change. The latter is addressed through a number of propositions around a new politics of ‘home’.

Relevant works in relation to the theme of the keynote:

  • Lancione, M. (monograph in preparation). On Lessness: Recentering the politics of home
  • Lancione, M. (2019) Weird Exoskeletons: Propositional Politics and the Making of Home in Underground Bucharest. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 43.3, 535–50.
  • Lancione, M. (2016a) Racialised dissatisfaction: homelessness management and the everyday assemblage of difference. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 41.4, 363–75.
  • Lancione, M. ed. (2016b) Rethinking life at the margins: the assemblage of contexts, subjects and politics. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, London ; New York.
  • Lancione, M. (2016). Beyond Homelessness Studies. European Journal of Homelessness, 10(3), 163-176
  • Lancione, M. (2014c). The spectacle of the poor. Or: ‘Wow!! Awesome. Nice to know that people care!’ Social & Cultural Geography, 15(7), 693–713.
  • Lancione, M. (2014b). Entanglements of faith: Discourses, practices of care and homeless people in an Italian City of Saints. Urban Studies, 51(14), 3062–3078.

Keynote @HSA on Radical housing: On the politics of dwelling as difference

On Friday the 12nd of April, 2019, I gave my plenary speech at the Housing Studies Association Conference in Sheffield. The conference, organized by Ryan Powell (Sheffield) and Jennifer Hoolachan (Cardiff) was centred around themes of housing precarity, activism and resistance. The level of discussion and the quality of the papers presented was of a very high standard and the all event was a huge success.

My keynote was sponsored by the International Journal of Housing Policy, with the incredible support of Dallas Rogers (Sydney) and Emma Power (Sydney). The paper will be soon published as the first of their new series of essays around ‘Housing Future’. This was an incredible opportunity for me to think around some of the key themes in my research, from homelessness to housing resistance and everything in-between.

Below you can find the abstract of my intervention at the HSA.

Abstract for HSA conference
Radical Housing: On the politics of dwelling as difference
Michele Lancione
m.lancione@sheffield.ac.uk

In their modes of organising and fighting housing injustice, radical housing movements demand more than ‘just’ housing. Across the urban north and south, they bring to the fore profound critiques of dominant economic, cultural, and societal inequalities. Scholarship investigating these grassroots efforts is copious but still limited: it theorises ‘radical’ struggles mostly from a Western tradition; it largely fails to bring resistance into dialogue with new modes of theorising the city; and it is still too cautious in its theorisation of the political. More and better can be said to grasp how millions of urbanites worldwide change their cities and lives through their fight for decent housing. The paper advances a new epistemological orientation to tackle these questions, expanding on decolonial, vitalist and processual approaches to urban studies. It proposes to rethink the politics of urban precarity from the ground of dwelling, as a historical and generative assemblage that needs to be traced in its unfolding to appreciate its unconventional politics. The paper contributes to scholarship interested in a critical understanding of embodiment, politics, and housing resistance beyond established conventions of ‘radical’ practice and theory.

Keynote at an ethnography conference @LSHTM

I am delighted to be part of this exciting workshop for early career ethnographers @LSHTM. In my keynote tomorrow I will develop ideas on ‘minor ethnographies’ starting from a conversation around Cindy Katz’ work to which I have contributed to in EPD: Society and Space last year (https://bit.ly/2xRDqRV).

In Minor ethno-graphies and the activist mode of existence I will speak of the first core of ethnography (encounter) and the second (representation) as fuelled by a specific intellectual politics (activism) which encompasses various domains of life. The aim is to conceive those beyond un-helpful distinctions of ‘research’ and ‘action’ (mode of existence).

Thanks to Charlotte Kuhlbrandt for organising and inviting me!