Snapshots of Home: ‘Heimat’ and the Question of Belonging, Integration and Alienation: A Case Study About Home-Making Processes in Transnationalism Within the Urban Context of Basel, Switzerland

The thesis discovers the multidimensional aspects and interrelations of the phenomenon Heimat (home, homeland) in a transnational urban context. The research goes beyond traditional migration, transnational or cross-border studies and focuses on the source and impact of feelings and emotions. Concepts of peace, transnationalism and Heimat are disassembled beyond a merely rational approach through a broad theoretical foundation. More specifically, this is done by exploring the many different shades and levels of these terms according to the transrational peace philosophy and the Elicitive Conflict Mapping (ECM) of the UNESCO Chair of Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck. In addition, an inductive empirical method, an Erzählcafé (storytelling café), combined with a qualitative content analysis provide a deeper insight on how these theories affect people’s everyday life in the community in the urban context of Basel.


Writing this thesis was not only a very enriching process personally and academically but also a challenging one. The exchange with the workshop participants in the Erzählcafé showed the importance of a dialogue about this topic in nowadays Europe, where right-wing politics and fundamentalism in youths with migration background are on the rise. A shift away from a rational discussion about such topic towards a more transrational perspective is not only fruitful but also indispensable. Living with strong transnational ties myself, the process has broadened my own perspectives on how to feel at home or how such feelings can be created more actively to find a little bit of imperfect peace.

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