About the seminar
Paying home visits to mark social events and maintain networks is an established cultural pattern in Arab countries. Northern (Arabic-speaking, largely Muslim) Sudanese displaced in Cairo in the 1990s experienced a deterioration of their legal and political status during the 1990s, but nevertheless made significant efforts to continue visiting each other in their temporary homes. This often meant having to travel long distances to and among members of their widely scattered networks. My talk proposes that Sudanese visiting practices contributed to a shifting constellation of mobile homemaking strategies that emerged during their sustained exile. Ranging across space and scale, and connecting people through experiences and values of Sudanese “homeliness”, visiting during these fraught years recreated familiar daily practices—home—but also encouraged new meanings of homeland and Sudanese belonging—Home—to take shape. Policy positions on urban refugees taken by the Egyptian government, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, and other humanitarian aid and resettlement agencies represented a third dimension—HOME—a state-centred view woven through the more familiar relationship between home and Home. These three dimensions of home, Home, and HOME together produced a uniquely Sudanese ‘constellation of home’ that helped them navigate the sustained uncertainty of their lives in Cairo.
About the speaker
Anita Fábos is Associate Professor of International Development and Social Change in the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment at Clark University, USA. Fábos is an anthropologist who has conducted research and outreach among refugees and other forced migrants in urban settings in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Her scholarship and practice pursues a number of interconnected themes in the area of forced migration and refugee studies: how people make and transform ethnic and racial boundaries and boundary markers, people’s experiences of displacement and challenges to gender norms, historical shifts in citizenship and nationality laws, methods and ethics of research with hidden, vulnerable and mobile populations, transcultural social networks, and refugee narratives and representations. Starting with a lengthy period of action research, NGO activism and outreach in Cairo, Fábos’ research and writing has followed the movements of Muslim Arab Sudanese—her main research participants—from their place of first exile in Egypt, to asylum in Europe and North America, and towards the formation of a diaspora straddling Islamic ‘space’ (countries in which Islam is the religion of the state) and the ‘asylum space’ of countries of resettlement in Europe and North America.