top of page


Dr. Christakis Peristianis

Homemaking, Unmaking, and
Remaking: The Place Of Hope

Few terms are as elusive and captivating as the word “home”. The most common context in which we encounter it through language is through the question, “Where is your home?”, as if “home” were merely a location. However, a home is much more than that; it is an idea, a concept that captures the intricate experience of human life within a specific environment. This description defines how a home is perceived in this short piece. A home is understood as a place or site, a set of feelings and cultural meanings associated with that place or site, as well as the relationships between them. This is how Alison Blunt and Robyn Dowling (2022) frame their critical geography of a home and how research in human geography has generally approached the concept of home. 


Blunt and Dowling (2022) elaborate on this critical geographical definition of home in several ways, one of which is particularly significant herein. As they claim, home should be understood as a dynamic process involving the creation and comprehension of forms of dwelling and belonging, encompassing both material and imaginative elements. Home is not static but rather something that is constantly created, nurtured, and maintained through both material items, and social and emotional relationships. Home is created by arranging furniture in a specific way in your domestic space or by placing and displaying various photographs around a rented flat. Likewise,home is established when you share that domestic space with a partner and/or a pet, and create memories within it. Home thus involves practices of homemaking, where individuals make themselves “feel at home” in specific environments, through material, interpersonal as well as more-than-human relations. It encompasses feelings of comfort, safety, and security (among others), that arise within the context of a particular location.


If home, however, is a feeling associated with a particular location, can it be lost or damaged? Recent research in human geography has argued that, just as home is made, it can also be unmade, with its material and imaginative components coming into question through phenomena such as wars, displacement, domestic violence, divorce, etc. (Baxter and Brickell 2014). Home-unmaking can take many forms, ranging from apocalyptic “domicide” and the global destruction of homes through warfare, displacement, eviction, etc. (Porteous and Smith 2001), to housing policies that deny the opportunity of homeownership. It can also involve disputes with neighbours, or damages to the physical and material structure and characteristics of a dwelling (Arrigoitia 2014). Therefore, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this paragraph, the place of home (its material and imaginative aspects) and the feelings associated with it can come under question, or even destroyed.


Where does that leave us, however? Should we simply acknowledge and conclude the discussion surrounding home by recognising that, just as it is made, it can also be unmade? The critical perspective on home emphasises this complexity, highlighting that it encompasses both negative and positive hopeful view of home in all of this? Can we acknowledge that home is also something to anticipate and await with optimism? With this in mind, I would assert that home also has the capacity to be remade, even after it has been lost or destroyed. Home-remaking can take various forms, such as when refugees settle into new societies and cultures (Korac 2009), or when internally displaced people attempt to establish a new sense of home in different locations (Hammond 2004). Undoubtedly, these individuals encounter challenges in their efforts to remake home, and their success may vary. However, the crucial point lies elsewhere: it is the hope of “feeling-at-home” that propels them forward and enables them to persevere in spite of their hardships.


While theory and concepts are always pertinent in describing phenomena, the most effective way to portray home unmaking and remaking is through revealing how it relates to real experiences of real people. I invite, therefore, the reader to explore how I encountered home, its unmaking and remaking, and how it has come to define my research and writing. Being born into a Greek-Cypriot refugee family, the experience of displacement has always been a part of my life. Unsurprisingly then, when I received funding for my doctoral study on the memory of displacement among Greek-Cypriot refugees, I decided to focus on my own extended family. As I started interviewing family members, I found myself gathering fragments of a collective, family biography and history spanning across space and time, which I struggled to piece together. Our discussions revolved around houses, land, villages, and neighbourhoods, encompassing both past and present properties — those left behind, and those recreatedfollowing displacement. At the same time, they discussed the local communities in the places they relocated to after displacement, as well as the state’s policies regarding refugees. How did all these relate?


The answer was home. Home is a concept, an idea that expands time and place. It is multiscalar and open, at the same time as it is connected with belonging. It can be applied to talk about what one has lost, at the same time as it can be applied to discuss what one has accomplished or wishes to accomplish. It is both regressive and prospective, looking at both the past and the future, at the same time (Papadopoulos 2002). It can be employed to mourn what was lost with displacement, but it can also be used to capture what has been accomplished during exile. Home for my family was unmade in 1974. They lost their houses, their land, their relatives who lived in the same neighbourhood, and a way of life that could not be regained. Yet, home was also remade during

exile. They built new houses close to each other, recreating the neighbourhood setting they had lost, while they purchased new land that helped them revive some of the practices of the past. One could say that home-unmaking and home-(re)making were not antithetical but rather complemented each other: without unmaking there could be no remaking. Without loss there could be no resilience.


What is the place of hope in all this, then? The answer is simple. Without hope, home remains elusive, unattainable. Without hope, home remains unmade. Without hope, home can never be made in the first place.

bottom of page