Assembling the renovated home: unpacking the fluid social and material assemblages of home renovation in Newcastle, Australia

A/Prof. Kristian Ruming1, A/Prof. Kathy Mee2, Prof Pauline McGuirk3

1Macquarie UniversityDepartment of Geography and Planning, Macquarie University

2Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Newcastle

3Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space, School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, University of Wollongong

 

Australia has been defined as the “Renovation Nation” (Allon, 2008), where the “great Australian dream” emerges as central to both individual and national identity. The home, in private ownership, has emerged as a key economic resource for owners, many of whom have benefited from a period of prolonged house price growth. The home as both an economic and social/cultural asset has, thus, emerged as a site of ongoing renovation, where changes to properties are seen to improve liveability/sense of home and/or the financial value of the property. In this paper we add to a growing body of literature which explores home renovation in Australia. In doing so, we position home renovation as an assemblage of social and material elements which combine in unique ways to shape the renovation process. Drawing on fieldwork undertaken in Newcastle, we analyse four interconnected forms of renovation: structural renovation; habitable renovation; liveable renovation; and, sustainable renovation. Renovation emerges as a fluid process as homes and home owners shift between the forms depending of the configuration and influence of a diverse set of social, material and economic elements.


Biography:

A/Prof Kristian Ruming is an urban and economic geographer. His current research explores urban regeneration and renewal, affordable and social housing, urban governance, planning system reform and community participation in planning.

Moving home: the experience of precarious housing

Dr Emma Power1

1Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia

 

Growing numbers of older people face ongoing residential moves due to economic disadvantage and housing precarity. For these people moving house can be a regular and ongoing experience that is both involuntary and unexpected. They do not move once and settle into a new home (as is common amongst those moving for health or lifestyle needs), but instead endure ongoing moves due to factors that include housing affordability and tenure conditions. Existing research identifies feelings of housing and ontological insecurity amongst this group. However, little is known of how people living in precarious housing negotiate the process of moving house. The purpose of this paper is to examine the experience of mobility-based disadvantage in older age. It considers housing mobility across two frames: first, moving from one residence to another, and second, housing mobility as a cumulative or ongoing experience. The paper considers how housing mobility is negotiated economically (the costs of moving house), materially/ practically (the process of moving from one place to another), physically (the embodied experience) and affectively (how housing mobility is understood and felt) through the experiences of 46 single, asset and income poor older women living in the greater Sydney region, Australia.


Biography:

Emma Power is a Senior Research Fellow in Geography and Urban Studies at Western Sydney University.

Writing Home: Exploring Personal Geographies with People who have Experienced Homelessness

Dr Meg Mundell1

1Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

 

How do people who have experienced homelessness understand and conceptualise “home”? This paper presents initial findings from the research project “We Are Here: Writing Place”, which explores understandings of place amongst people who have been homeless. Data was gathered through a series of place-themed creative writing workshops, commissioned memoir pieces, and semi-structured interviews with people who have been displaced by homelessness; the resulting writings will be published as a book (We Are Here: Stories of Home, Place and Belonging, Affirm Press, October 2019). This paper discusses participants’ personal geographies of home: how does living without a secure home – or having to leave home due to violence, abuse, conflict, or poverty – shape place-identity (Proshansky, 1978), place attachment (Low & Altman, 1992), place meaning (Manzo, 2005), and narratives of the self (Pile, 2002)? And how might creative writing offer a medium to recollect and represent these “past emotional–spatial experiences” (Jones, 2005)?


Biography:

Dr Meg Mundell is an ECR/cultural geographer/writer with a focus on place, spatial justice and narratives of homelessness. Her current research explores understandings of place amongst people who have experienced homelessness, and she is editing We Are Here: Stories of Home, Place and Belonging (Affirm Press, October 2019), featuring creative writing by participants. Her novels Black Glass (Scribe, 2011) and The Trespassers (August 2019, UQP) employ plausible dystopias to explore experiences of displacement. Meg is a Research Fellow (Deakin University) and steering committee member for the interdisciplinary HOME Research Hub, which focuses on homelessness, affordable housing and social inclusion.

megmundell@hotmail.com

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