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Two-Part “Right to Housing” Series Session One: Home/Homelessness in Precarious Times

A home is fundamental to the human condition. And yet many people—over time and across the world today—struggle to find, or keep this most basic necessity. What does it mean to assert a right to safe, sustainable, affordable housing? And what are the political, ethical, and existential issues raised by its lack or unattainability?

This two-part event (Sept. 24 and Oct. 1) will be moderated by Brian Goldstone, a journalist and anthropologist currently writing a book on gentrification, housing insecurity, and the rise of the working homeless, and Anne Allison, Duke anthropologist who has worked on precarity, lonely death, and homeless dead in Japan.


The first session will take up the issue of home and homelessness from a global/anthropological perspective by questioning the very parameters of what constitutes “home” in the face of housing precarity. Looking at limit cases of struggles and challenges to find, and maintain secure dwelling places, the discussion will revolve around the everydayness, idealized abstraction, and politics of life incurred in home-making. Amidst encroaching uncertainty worldwide, will the ability to have a home become a luxury relegated to a privileged few or a human right demanded by/for all? The session will be led by three researchers/activists of housing in different contexts—Julia  Christensen (geographer, indigenous Canadian north), Stephanie Grohmann (anthropologist, squatting in urban England), and Fiona Ross (anthropologist, townships in South Africa).

Attendees are invited to one, or both sessions, and are urged to read the writing of the participants ahead of time.


Julia Christensen, “’Our Home, Our Way of Life’: Spiritual Homelessness, Dimensions of Indigenous Homelessness in the Northwest Territories, Canada,” Social & Cultural Geography, 2013.
Steph Grohmann, “Introduction,” The Ethics of Space: Homelessness and Squatting in Urban England.

Fiona Ross, “Raw Life & Respectability: Poverty & Everyday Life in a Postapartheid Community,” Current Anthropology vol. 56, supp. 11, August 2015.

Anne Allison, “Not Waiting to Die Badly: Facing the Precarity of Dying Alone in Japan,” in Ethnographies of Waiting: Doubt, Hope and Uncertainty, eds. Manpreet Janeja & Andreas Bandak, 2018.

Brian Goldstone, “The New American Homeless”

Samuel Stein, “Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State”

Hannah Black, “Tenant Unions for the Future”

Tracy Rosenthal, “101 Notes on the LA Tenants Union”

Tara Raghuveer, “From Commodification to Public Good: Changing Our Housing Narratives”

This event is sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute and co-sponsored by Cultural Anthropology, DHRC@FHI and Pauli Murray Project.


September 24, 2020
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm