Freie Universität Berlin

Service Navigation

Making It Home: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Recognition and Displacement in America

International Conference at the Graduate School of North American Studies

№ 90/2012 from Apr 20, 2012

On May 11th and 12th, 2012, Freie Universität Berlin’s Graduate School of North American Studies will host an international conference about North America’s understanding of Home as both a national and domestic space of identification. In their presentations, young scholars will illuminate the social, economic, political, and cultural conditions transforming the concept of Home. In the course of the conference, public lectures will be held by the historian Susan J. Matt, the urban sociologist Peter Marcuse, and the anthropologist James Clifford.

Home has traditionally been associated with ideas of belonging, community, domesticity, and safety. When social change occurs, these concepts must be re-evaluated. “Making It Home” implies returning to, adapting to, and creating ways of being at home in America. The conference will consider Home as a metaphor from various disciplinary perspectives. Young scholars from the social sciences and the humanities will examine Home as a trope connoting such diffuse themes as diaspora and belonging, the impact of the housing crisis and natural catastrophes, and literary representations of homelessness.

James Clifford, professor of Humanities at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and visiting professor at the Graduate School of North American Studies during the summer semester, is internationally known for his reflections on modern ethnography and anthropology in his books Writing Culture and The Predicament of Culture. His lecture is entitled “‘Always Coming Home’—On Postcolonial (Im)Possibility in California.” Peter Marcuse, professor emeritus of Urban Planning at Columbia University in New York City, is widely known for his work in critical urban sociology and urban justice, and will be speaking on “The Myth and Reality of Home ‘Ownership.’. Susan J. Matt, professor of history at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, will talk about “How Americans Learned to Leave Home.”

The conference language is English. The registration fee is 20 euros; students and doctoral candidates pay 10 euros. Please register at:

Time and place of the keynote lectures, which are open to the public:

  • James Clifford: May 11, 2012, 6:00 pm, John F. Kennedy Institute, Room 340
  • Susan J. Matt: May 12, 2012, 9:30 am, John F. Kennedy Institute, Room 340
  • Peter Marcuse: May 12,2012, 4:30 pm, John F. Kennedy Institute, Room 340

You can find the program here:

Further Information

Philipp Reick, Graduate School of North American Studies,Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: 0176 29229582, Email: