When Walls Breathe and Roots Dance – Re-Imagining the Shape of Home in an Age of Homelessness

What has been called the ‘refugee crisis’, may actually be an identity crisis in a rapidly changing world. Who are we, and who are they? Where do we begin and end? I posit western conceptions of the Self – separate, bounded, individual and constant – shape metaphors of national homes and thus determine the geopolitics of belonging and exclusion. Alongside Black Feminists, Buddhists and spiritual ecologists, I argue that: the refugee, ecological and racial crises we are facing, as well as the reactionary responses to them, are rooted in a no longer tenable paradigm of individualism. With faulty perceptual tools and their misleading conceptual frameworks, we are facing not merely a crisis of values, but an existential, and spiritual crisis. My project is to creatively re-conceive of political belonging through re-perceiving the interconnection of our Selves through our most immediate home—our breathing bodies. I look to somatic wisdom to expand notions of Self and Home. What kind of homes and homelands would we create if we no longer thought we ended at our skin? if we sensed our interconnection with each breath? What ethical imperatives would this birth?


The seeds of this thesis were planted summer 2014, when I began training in somatic education and peace research. I learned to perceive myself as a more-than-rational, impermanent, permeable, interconnected, system of systems. That same summer saw a series of murders between Israelis and Palestinians which drove me to question homeland. The question haunted me through 2 years of projects with refugees in Berlin, and 6 months of pregnancy. I nearly gave up many times until I escaped the city to finish writing in the countryside. It has been a soul-searching, sometimes painful, iterative process.

Image Sources:

  • MoP: Owned by the author
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