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)?
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.