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Our Grand Domestic Revolution: (Re-)making home in Jaffna, Sri Lanka and the Greater Toronto Area

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12:00 PM, Thursday 26 May 2022 (20 minutes)

Displacement, describing a sense of uprootedness, is seemingly irreconcilable with the grounding quality of domestic space. However, the practice of housework and homemaking allows forcibly displaced people to reconstruct home elsewhere. While historical feminist movements in the West have advocated for a radical socialization of housework in an effort to value its labour and extend its visibility to the public realm, these views fail to address the importance of homemaking as private placemaking for racialized immigrants, refugees, and diasporas. By centring the context of migration, this paper analyzes the makings of home upon displacement as experienced by my family, who were uprooted from a village in Jaffna, Sri Lanka to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Canada during the height of the 26-year Sri Lankan Civil War in the 1980s. Using a past and current family home as case studies and drawing from oral history interviews and secondary social and feminist theories, the research re-frames housework as an act of resistance through the making of an affirmative domestic sphere where racialized refugees, migrants, and diasporas can be subjects. The findings reveal how the architecture and urban design of homes in the GTA, influenced by legacies of colonialism and whiteness, become tools for negotiating insecure identities upon and after displacement.

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