Multiplicities and Intersections of Homes and Fields
Keywords:home, field, belonging, Mussoorie, Landour, Uttarakhand
Multiple and context-specific terms for “home” in Indian languages can help us as ethnographers imagine and recognize home(s) and field(s) as non-binary, multiple, fluid, intersecting categories. In North India, these terms may include: mul nivas, gaon, ghar, maika (pihar), sasural. The terms identify home by ancestry, residence, performance and ritual, affect, landscapes, and familial and other relationships. Paying attention to the everyday use of indigenous terms, we also learn that home may be gendered and may change over a person’s life cycle. While concepts of belonging and home are fluid and multiple, they may also have limits and constraints. Individuals in our research communities, families, academic audiences—and we as ethnographers—all have the potential to belong or lose belonging, even to renounce belonging, in multiple ways that shift over time and in different contexts. One of our tasks as ethnographers is to recognize these possibilities and to write in ways that leave space for their fluidity.
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