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Inuit housing: Considering the idea of “home,” housing rights, and wellbeing in Nunavik - Bettina Koschade

2:30 PM, Saturday 5 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Tim Ingold has said that “home” is essentially “an inevitable part of what it means to be human.” Appropriate Inuit housing is seen as the necessary foundation to create overall social, economic, and cultural wellbeing in Arctic Canada. There is a disconnect, however, between housing policy discussions in Nunavik and identifying how housing improves wellbeing. With that in mind, I propose to shift away from the important, yet too narrowly defined, technocratic problems that plague in the Inuit housing crisis in Nunavik, such as funding and logistical issues, and instead, open a dialogue that seriously examines what would be required to start building “homes” in the North. Home is more than shelter, it is also symbolic. It provides for cultural and collective identity, anchoring a person at a personal level, socially, and institutionally. Home also has political implications as a site of dignity, resistance, individual agency, and collective wellbeing. With housing steeped in the neoliberal economy today, and policies and programs that have been founded on colonial and capitalist ideologies since the beginning, I explore this disconnect between policy and the recognition that “the idea of home” is about an essential need to have a sense of control over one’s living conditions. Control can be expressed in a myriad of ways such as control over space, place, and territory, political control, domestic control, or institutional and decision-making control. It can also be expressed through the arguments of human rights. The inherent shortcoming with the housing debates in the North is that while they are meant to improve conditions for Inuit families and communities on many of these concrete and symbolic levels, they fail to be discussed on the level of identity, communal decision-making, or community wellbeing. This paper will be presenting preliminary research results from my PhD research.
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