Refugee Narratives of Home

By: Katherine Kunz  

Narratives of home are an important field of inquiry to understand the moral forces at play in policies related to migration. Home is a place that is not only materially defined, relationally-experienced, and socially constructed, it is also shaped through personal narrative, memory, and imagination. In addition, many theorists argue that home is most often noticed in its absence. This paper will put philosophical and theological concepts of home into conversation with narratives of home collected from participant observations and interviews with recent refugees in Switzerland. At Projekt DA-SEIN at the ecumenical church Elisabethenkirche, refugees are provided a place to gather and be together. These refugees, unsure if they will be allowed to stay in Switzerland, continue to inhabit a “border passage,”1 in the words of post-colonial theologian Kwok Pui-lan. In the ongoing experience of border passage, how do refugees understand and experience home? How do narratives, of staying, leaving, and crossing, inform past, present, and imagined concepts of home? How do refugees’ experiences of home disrupt binary notions of stability and mobility, security and insecurity, belonging and not belonging, “native” and “foreign”?

Narrative Home Border
2019 Special Focus—Border Crossing Narratives: Learning from the Refugee Experience
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Katherine Kunz

University of Basel

I am doctoral student in Practical Theology at the University of Basel, Switzerland. My education background includes theology and international studies. I also have extensive experience in higher education administration. I am currently studying and conducting research in Basel, Switzerland. I am specifically working with the refugee program, DA-SEIN, at Elisabethenkirche in the city of Basel.