School of Management & Languages
Intercultural Research Centre
Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies
Edinburgh EH14 4AS
The Experience of Home: Lithuanians in Scotland
Migration studies recognize how migrants develop various forms of engagement with the new host country and their country of origin, and it is argued that they live transnational lives. It is explained that migrants develop dual (or multiple) lives, there and here, and that migrants constantly negotiate between cultural, religious, moral norms and languages, and that therefore they are ‘in-between’. Despite economic, socio-cultural and political networks that have been developed by migrants between nations, there is a lot of emphasis on how new forms of belonging, notions of identity and home are practiced through the migrants’ continuous reflexivity and flexibility. However, there is a challenge to capture transnational aspects of life that are not observable, such as imagination, invention, memories, or emotions, that are important aspects of life here and now.
Home is not only a philosophical concept, but also a cultural-historical phenomenon, and also an everyday fact. Nevertheless, home is very tactile, we live in places, in certain localities, but one can experience there an existential homelessness. Home, it could be argued, is a way of being in the world; however, at the end of a day the experience of it is a combination of place, space, atmosphere, objects, people, imaginaries, actuality and memories. There is no place like home, people say, but what does that mean? Can we explain home or do we have to experience it in order to understand? But to experience what: rootedness, belonging, dwelling or grounding, or maybe loss?
I am Lithuanian living in Edinburgh, who is studying the imaginaries and practices of the concept of home among Lithuanians in Scotland. I am a migrant myself; however, the concept of migrant is multi-layered in experiences, even if one limits it to one nationality in one country, it is loaded with various stereotypes. Interestingly, more often the label of ‘migrant’ theoretically fits but emotionally does not. This insight is related to a popular notion, especially in the media, that a migrant is not ‘fully human’ because of being rootless and displaced; however, Nigel Rapport (2013) would say there are many human truths, but so often the human practice is defined by limitations, and fetishization of one component. Placing people is one of the common practice, especially when place is determined through the lenses of social hierarchy (Jackson, 2013).
My dissertation is an intimate insight into how some Lithuanians that I have been meeting in Scotland experience and understand home. The aim is to capture the knowledge of and about home through empirical research. Similar to Chawla (2014), I see home ‘as a spatial, discursive, poetic, and contradictory imaginary that enables (and is simultaneously enabled by) multiple narrations of individual and family identity’, meaning that I focus on how and what kind of narratives are shared with me, and how time and place are sensed and understood.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Ullrich Kockel & Dr. Kerstin Pfeiffer