2013-2014: The Humanities and Home

When Dorothy Gale utters the last line of The Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home,” there seems little doubt that she speaks out of her joy at being safely ensconced on her family’s farm in America’s Heartland. However, Dorothy’s simple phrase is open to a wide variety of interpretations because of one word—home—that can connote security, belonging, memory, and comfort, or arouse feelings of dread, alienation, and pain.

The purpose of the 2013-2014 Institute for Humanities Research Fellowship at Arizona State University is to encourage serious critical explorations of home as a term that resonates on cultural, emotional, intellectual, religious, philosophical, political and spiritual levels—as a place, a space, a myth, a source of identity, a promised land, a state of being, a war zone, an impossibility, and/or an inalienable right. 

We invite humanities scholars from various disciplines to apply for the IHR fellowship to conduct research projects from multiple disciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives that illuminate and enrich our understanding of how the concept of home informs and is informed by geography and history, identities and ideologies, imagined and lived experiences.  Projects may explore what it means to create a home or to be without home.  For example, are diasporic communities without a home, or is home more real and vital because it resides in culture, history, and memory? And while the “homeless,” are obviously without a physical home, what about those who reside in literal and figurative borderlands, for whom feeling at home is always contingent, always at risk?

Related questions include:

• How do physical connections to and disconnections from geopolitical lands inform our definitions and experiences of home?
• What does it mean to belong to a particular place, history, or culture?
• How does the past inform our understandings of home?
• How do the humanities afford communities and individuals strategies with which to negotiate contested home spaces and construct new ones?
• To what extent are concepts of home culturally determined?
• Is anything about home universal?
• Who is entitled to have a home?  Whose homes count as homes and why?
• How does home intersect with issues of citizenship?
• Is there a shared cultural imaginary about home in U.S. popular culture?  In various literary and artistic traditions?  In religious faiths?
• How has technology affected contemporary ideas about home?
• Where do individuals get their expectations about and longings for home?
• In what ways does home intersect with and exceed the limits of origin?
• How do race, class, gender, sexuality, and spirituality frame our experiences of or desires for home?
• In what ways do different expressions of home conflict with or impinge upon one another? How do the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion enter into constructions of home?