Making Homes in Limbo? A Conceptual Framework


  • Cathrine Brun Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Anita Fábos Clark University



forced migration, protracted displacement, home, homemaking, liminality, mobility, place, feminist theory


This article aims to conceptualize home and homemaking for people in protracted displacement. The article serves three purposes: to present an overview of the area of inquiry; to develop an analytical framework for understanding home and homemaking for forced migrants in protracted displacement; and to introduce the special issue. It explores how protracted displacement has been defined—from policy definitions to people’s experiences of protractedness, including “waiting” and “the permanence of temporariness.” The article identifies the ambivalence embedded in experiences and practices of homemaking in long-term displacement, demonstrating how static notions of home and displacement might be unsettled. It achieves this through examining relationships between mobility and stasis, the material and symbolic, between the past, present, and future, and multiple places and scales. The article proposes a conceptual framework—a triadic constellation of home—that enables an analysis of home in different contexts of protracted displacement. The framework helps to explore home both as an idea and a practice, distinguishing among three elements: “home” as the day-to-day practices of homemaking, “Home” as representing values, traditions, memories, and feelings of home, and the broader political and historical contexts in which “HOME” is understood in the current global order and embedded in institutions. In conclusion, the article argues that a feminist and dynamic understanding of home-Home-HOME provides a more holistic perspective of making home in protracted displacement that promotes a more extensive and more sophisticated academic work, policies, and practices.


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How to Cite

Brun, C., & Fábos A. (2015). Making Homes in Limbo? A Conceptual Framework. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 31(1), 5–17.

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