The discourse of home has personal and political salience. At the personal level it indexes a need for ontological security –the home anchors the self. At the political level, home is associated with homeland and home affairs, such as with the United States’ Department of Homeland Security and the European Union’s Maastricht Pillar of Justice and Home Affairs. The rise of those institutions is associated with hardened political borders and strengthened far right politics. While the word “home” did not cause these outcomes, its introduction raises questions: what does the discourse of home ‘do’ when it organizes the provision of security? To what extent are these dynamics inescapable? This project argues that the prosaic notion of “home” as a private, enclosed space disciplines (inter)national security toward hard borders and homogeneity, through narratives and symbols reproducing links between home and state at banal and conspicuous levels. Even novel experiments such as the EU are subject to this behind-the-back discipline.
I argue that such regressive politics are not inevitable. Rather, a contingent imaginary of home has become naturalized through a recursive process: micro-level psychological dispositions are linked to macro-political forms; structures of political practice discipline how we know our psychological needs. I then rethink the concept of home. Historically, home has been a social place of encounter. Conceptually, it is a space not to withdraw from but to safely experience anxiety. Home, therefore, is a dynamic need whose political linkages need to be re-imagined. This project creates space for these new imaginings.