BSP Podcast: Ashika L. Singh – Dwelling, Building and Homelessness

podcast update

Season one of our podcast continues with another panel presentation from the British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference in 2016.

Season 1 episode 5: 30 December 2016

This recording is of Ashika L. Singh’s presentation ‘Dwelling, Building and Homelessness’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “The ‘home’ is at the heart of discourse surrounding Heidegger’s being-in-the-world qua dwelling. While this starting-point is novel, it is problematically contrasted with homelessness, even by the most politically liberal of phenomenologists (such as, Edward Casey). Although efforts have been made to problematize and politicise the home (particularly by feminist thinkers), little focus is placed on its devalued counterpart. In this paper, I argue that we continue to privilege the home and so ignore the consequences both conceptual and material of this dichotomisation. This is ultimately shortsighted, philosophically and sociopolitically. I criticise the existential circumspection of homelessness found in Heideggarian anti-modernism and place this circumspection back into its concrete origins. This criticism therefore attacks Heidegger’s (and Casey’s) implicit reification of the home as the patriarchal household (oikos) and the equation of modern Unheimlichkeit with the city and homelessness found within. The problem hereby addressed in this paper is the devaluation of homelessness to a lack of a home. To reveal why this devaluation occurs, I will sketch out a deconstruction of the binary. In doing this, I will show that the home-homelessness distinction is accounted for in the distinction between house and urban space and ultimately in the distinction between private and public spheres. It is my contention that it is not so much ‘modernity’ that incurs a persistent state of homelessness, but the exclusionary and oppressive nature of the demarcation of place via capital. In turn, I claim that Heideggarian dwelling sustains the perception of homelessness that informs aggressive anti-homeless public policy. While there is undeniable merit in phenomenological conceptions of dwelling, I insist that the Heideggarian dweller neglects the liberating potential of cities and the radical significance of homelessness.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK during September, 2016. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.