Anthropological Concepts of the Home


02 Aug 2017

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Annotated Bibliography: Home


In this paper, I will be reviewing 4 readings which are closely related to homes and dwelling. I will also analyse and assess the strengths and weakness on each reading based on the explanations and theories presented on each reading, based on the ideal home, the perception of home and the concept of home within the anthropological perspective.

A home or a domicile is a dwelling-place used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for an individual, family, household or several families. It is often a house, apartment, or other building, or alternatively a mobile home, houseboat, yurt, shack, etc. Homes typically provide areas and facilities for sleeping, preparing food, eating and hygiene. Homes also provide a private space which allows the residents to separate from the outside world. Homes can also be used in a variety different ways in comparison to public space or quasi-public spaces in which certain rules and regulations are mandatory.

When secure and legal dwellings are not available due to financial or geographical reasons, residents can be forced to live in informal and/or illegal shacks found in slums and shanty towns in a geographical region. Slums and shanty towns are still present in developing nations in the modern era. Generally, "home" may be considered to be a geographic area, such as a town, village, suburb, city, or country.

Bachelard, G. 1958. The Poetics of Space: The Classic Look at how we Experience Intimate Places.  (1994 edition, translated by M. Jolas) Boston: Beacon Press

Gaston Bachelard's book, The Poetics of Space provides an intriguing insights into the meaning of spaces which incorporate poetry, primarily focusing on intimate private spaces such as a house. Within, the home, examples such as a drawer, a night dresser are mentioned and analysed from an anthropological and philosophical perspective. Also, outdoor spaces such as vistas, gardens, trees and woods are also examined in a similar manner, both indoor and outdoor spaces are examined in a poetic manner in comparison to a structured manner which is different than most standard academic readings, therefore the book is appealing to wider audiences.

In the first chapter of the book, Bachelard focuses on the interior domestic space within the home and its components, such as rooms and objects within a room, primarily focusing on furniture, décor and windows, doors etc. Bachelard also continues to pursue the investigation of the acceptance of the subjective consciousness and the poetic image. Bachelard also states that an acceptance within the domestic space which also demands with great openness from residents or guests, and a focus on the present experience different time frames.

Bachelard states that a home is the essential, almost living object, meaning that the home according its residents, they experience an epitomical memories with the home setting. Bachelard claims the home is categorised as a personal universe, claiming that "all really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of home" (The Poetics of Space, 1958, p.5). Bachelard, continues to examine the home as the expression and explanation of the soul through literary images and poetic images. This is found in most forms of poetry. Bachelard examines different locations in the home as certain places of memory and also intimacy which are also expressed in poetry. This also provides a detailed anthropological, philosophical and psychological perspectives of the home to the reader.

Bachelard focuses on the poetic images of the home for it being the property of the innocence and relative consciousness, something which precedes conscious thought from the people who are present, the home does not require extensive knowledge and is the product of the heart and soul according to the resident. Bachelard also describes the direct relation of poetry to reality and vice versa which intensifies the reality of certain perceived objects ("imagination augments the values of reality", The Poetics of Space, p.3). Bachelard claims, poetry is directed at one and the same time both outwards and inwards, therefore establishing a future discussion of outside and inside (in relation to home and other public spaces) which is familiar to anyone who is familiar with the theories of public and private space.

Bachelard claims that the home has both complexity and unity, it is made out of experiences and memories, Bachelard also introduces his concept of topo-analysis, which he defines as a psychological studying of the sites of our intimate lives which is done systematically. The house, the most intricate and intimate of all public and private spaces, in which it "protects the daydreamer" and thus understanding the house is a way to understand the soul and also the spiritual attributes of a human being.

Heidegger, M. 1951.  Building, Dwelling, Thinking. In: (trans. A. Hofstadter) Poetry, Language, Thought [New York: Harper, 1971], pp. 145-61

Martin Heidegger's "Building Dwelling Thinking" begins with a strong argument that a dwelling structure (primarily focusing on fixed buildings) is essentially and ideally designed for a person or family as their own private space for many dwelling related purposes. However, Heidegger also states certain definitions and considerations that undermine the clarity and simplicity of this statement. Heidegger argues that not all buildings are designed for dwelling, which is obvious when considering factories, hospitals, schools, office buildings etc.

The fundamental framework for "Building Dwelling Thinking" is to investigate into the relationships and processes between the concepts of building and dwelling, and to question the meaning behind dwelling, how building relates to dwelling and does building in itself allows for dwelling.

Heidegger claims that the modern world has brought about a negative perception and analysis between building and dwelling. Heidegger's perception was formed during the post war housing crisis in the 1950s in Europe, as the original article was published during the housing shortage which was common in the early 1950s. Heidegger also examines the origins for most key words (e.g. build) and analyses the words based on meaning from an anthropological and philosophical perspective, which helps to build strong arguments and gather further insights from the mid-20th century from a historical perspective.

Heidegger claims that the key words have lost their original meanings in regards to existing or 'being' in a certain place, primarily focusing on dwellings.  Heidegger then proceeds to argue in regards to the manner in which we reside in residential buildings. Heidegger also provides a very overt philosophical perceptive about the manner in regards to our identity on Earth within a dwelling. However, for residents who may not own a property or living in a semi-permanent or temporary accommodation, the true emotions of belonging at home is disputed as some individuals may feel that home is a part of their identity, but other residents may disagree with this perspective.

In terms of describing the relationships between dwelling, Heidegger claims that modern times (then post-war era) has brought a large, complex confusion in the understanding and processes of relationship between building and dwelling from a sociological perspective which is also stated in the readings very overtly. Heidegger also states, as buildings are not conceived to be related to the state of a dweller's existence in the world. Buildings in particular, are not problematic as the ability for a building to provide housing or shelter is in this article is considered as being adequate.

Heidegger also clarifies the properties and functions of buildings and their relationship with dwellers, with considering social and cultural aspects of a dweller's lifestyle. Buildings and dwellings are also a part of a local community which can lead to a certain community to experience a mutual sense of the present, past and a future.

Dwellings according to Heidegger are a fixed, permanent place and in order to be situated in a certain relationship with a dweller's existence, a relationship is characterized by enabling and nurturing the world through dwelling's and their omnipotence. According to Heidegger, "the basic character of dwelling is to spare, to preserve… dwelling itself is always a staying with things. Dwelling, as preserving, keeps the fourfold in that with which mortals stay: in things" (Heidegger, 1951 pp.150-151). This also questions the meaning of home to dwellers who live a non-permanent fixtures such as shacks, tents and yurts.

Kaufman, E. 2002. Living Virtually in a Cluttered House. Angelaki, vol.7, no. 3, pp. 159 - 169

Living Virtually in a Cluttered House by Eleanor Kaufman, provides a modern insight to readers in regards to the internet revolution within the home and beyond, Kaufman also assesses and analyses the human interaction within the home through virtual visions and experiences from a psychological and philosophical perspective alongside an explanation for the evolution of home through a historical perspective. Kaufmann starts the article with segments from Gaston Bachelard's book, The Poetics of Space (1958), which provides a good solid arguments for advanced thought within the home.

Kaufman assesses and analyses the evolution of the home throughout various historical periods. Kaufman also claims a "detailed analysis of the space of the Baroque house, which is defined by the fact that it has only two levels and, moreover, a folded space that separates them. The universe as a stairwell marks the Neo-platonic tradition." (Kaufman, 2002 pp. 159). Kaufman, also traces the history of levels within the home which began during the Baroque-era, as the era's contribution is a home with only two floors, which is standard in most houses in the modern era, separated by a wall or barrier that echoes, similar to terraced houses and apartments.

Kaufman also claims that the two different levels are used differently and are also divided based on activity, privacy and safety, "At issue here are, on the one hand, the demarcation of two distinct floors or levels and, on the other, the liminal or boundary space the fold or point of inflection where the two levels come together." (Kaufman, 2002, pp. 159) "The two levels of the Baroque house would appear to be diametric opposites: the lower level is large, open, public and spacious, while the upper level is small, windowless, private, and closed. Furthermore, the lower level corresponds with the body while the upper level corresponds with the soul." (Kaufman, 2002, pp159)

Kaufman claims that the levels within the home cannot be separate from each other, as the first floor cannot exist without the second floor, or there is one floor. Then again, and this may be preoccupied in what follows, the question remains on whether or not one floor question remains on whether or not a I flooring is actually single or whether or not it conjointly presupposes a virtual second floor. It appears that the latter is that the case a minimum of in France wherever the enumeration of floors begins with what in American nomenclature language is already the second floor. Such conundrums riddle may well be worked out indefinitely, however what matters is that they need real referring to the means we have a tendency to understand the area distance around United States and therefore real referring to the means lives and lived, notably in non-extreme moments, here and currently that is most of the time.

This question of the 'double dubiousness of the 'image belonging' or contiguousness of 2 distinct however indivisible entities involves the foreground in another philosophical register, that is that of the relation between mind and body, relative between intellect and resonator. Victimisation the framework of the Baroque house as some extent of departure, firm as a mathematical notation of divergence.

Kaufman also bases her argument through the works of Gilles Deleuze, a well-respected French philosopher. Deleuze connects this framework on varied occasions to the mind-body head-substance question. Whereas treating this question consistently with relevance Deleuze would need a lot of in-depth analysis, it's helpful and beneficial here to illustrate however Deleuze's model of Baroque area conjointly serves manikin of Baroque area conjointly function an abstract model for the same relation between body and soul.

Robben, A. C. G. M. 1989. Habits of the Home: Spatial Hegemony and the Structuration of House and Society in Brazil.  American Anthropologist, vol. 91, no. 3, pp. 570 - 588

Habits of the Home provides an intricate glimpse into special hegemony and housing structures in a coastal town, Camurim. Camurim is a coastal town of around 6,000 inhabitants the state of Bahia in northeast Brazil.  This socio-spatial organization of the house gains a full capacity. The social relationships and limits fit those of the economic, domestic, through the economy, planned within the home, correspondence of those 2 levels of a stratified results of associate degree informative method during which social perspective of the domestic world. For example, the fabric reply to his written agreement obligations at work, space resembles the competition for standing in within the bedchamber is expounded to the importance of couple. Nonetheless this informative method isn't solely same time, the public toilet economic and public positions, the interpretation and copy.

House and society represent area unit reflected nonetheless reworked within the alternative. during this article, Robben clarifies the complicated relation associate degree associate degreealysis of the domestic world of fishermen a sketch of the anthropology setting associate degree,  Robben also demonstrates that the organization of society domains isn't an analytic however an empirical polygamous areas exist among the house, the sea, create phased transitions between the 3 domains lowed by an outline of the principal reciprocal direction of the social group and domestic domains can discuss the organization of the house and domains of society. However, Robben highlights variations of the socio-spatial habitus make to totally different erected between house and society.

The four-six man fishing crews can stay up to 10 days. They exploit a colossal space of coral reefs and sand banks between the coastal waters and also the fringe of the ocean floor. The twelve largest vessels fish solely with hand lines, whereas the smaller boats alternate between the employment of trawl nets, gill nets, and hand lines. The high price of even the small powerboat ($6,000) has resulted during a patronage system during which some former boat fishermen have succeeded in befriending native landowners to co-sign their bank loans. The growing monopolisation of those social networks by the boat house owners has hindered the upward quality of the boat fishermen.

The road is seen as impure, because the supply of evil, as a place of danger conflict that will damage the members of the unit if its dangerous influences are penetrate. Physical markers, thresholds, and ambiguous areas area unit erected that serve rework folks symbolically throughout their transition from one social domain to. According to Robben, residents in Camurim make certain to wipe their feet on the adorned doormat rests on the threshold after they enter a house as a symbolic gesture that they convey evil to the house.


To conclude, all readings are closely related to homes and dwelling and describe the various themes of home, in regards to personal space and a sense of belonging. Also, between Heidegger (1951) and Robben (1989), there is a rigid perceptive on dwellings and their strong bonds. However, this may not be applicable to residents who may in semi-permanent or temporary buildings.

Kaufman (2002), provide a modern arguments to the relationships between dwellers and dwellings through a comparison of ancient era buildings and their structures. Bachelard (1958) provides a fluid, open argument behind the meaning of each designed room within the home. Bachelard also assesses the home from a psychological and philosophical perspective which provides more details for a holistic argument.

However, in the modern era the concept of home being separate from the outside world is changing. Due to advancement in technology, the home is also becoming a place to socialise, work and build alongside the outside world through medium such as mobile phones, PCs and tablets. These ideas and viewpoints may be challenged in the present and in the future.



Bachelard, G. 1958. The Poetics of Space: The Classic Look at how we Experience Intimate Places.  (1994 edition, translated by M. Jolas) Boston: Beacon Press

Heidegger, M. 1951.  Building, Dwelling, Thinking. In: (trans. A. Hofstadter) Poetry, Language, Thought [New York: Harper, 1971], pp. 145-61

Kaufman, E. 2002. Living Virtually in a Cluttered House. Angelaki, vol.7, no. 3, pp. 159 - 169

Robben, A. C. G. M. 1989. Habits of the Home: Spatial Hegemony and the Structuration of House and Society in Brazil.  American Anthropologist, vol. 91, no. 3, pp. 570 - 588


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