Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display 

Professor Peggy Levitt

The Geffrye Museum, Lecture Room 

Thursday 9th March 2017, 3-4pm


According to the World Bank, one out of every seven people in the world today is an international or internal migrant who moves by choice or by force.  Our cities are increasingly diverse—people from over 184 countries call London home. So how do we learn to get along? Museums have always played a leading role in creating nations and national citizens. In today’s global world, do they also create global citizens too?  This talk looks at how museums around the world are making sense of immigration and globalization. Based on first-hand conversations with museum directors, curators, and policymakers; their descriptions of current and future exhibitions; and the inside stories about the famous paintings and iconic objects that define their collections, I provide a close-up view of how different kinds of institutions balance nationalism and cosmopolitanism and what it is about particular cities and nations that explains the outcome. 

This talk is free to attend; no booking is required. Directions to the museum can be found here

Posted in domestic imaginaries symposium



One day workshop:  Thursday 4th May 2017

The Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA

In recent years there has been a proliferation of publications – across a range of disciplines – which have the working-class home at their centre. These works have questioned our approach to the working-class home through both a re-reading of traditional sources and a utilisation of previously overlooked archival evidence that grant unprecedented access to these homes. New interpretations have begun to overturn our previous understandings of the working-class home and its inhabitants. Moreover, those exploring the working-class home are now moving beyond the experiences of city slum dwellings to examine a much broader geographical, socio-economic, and ethnically diverse working class and the wider range of dwellings they inhabited. 

This interdisciplinary one day workshop will bring together academics (postgraduates, early career researchers, and established scholars) from across numerous disciplines – History, English Literature, Art History, Archaeology, Geography, and other disciplines – as well as archive and museum professionals to discuss approaches to exploring the working-class home. We welcome papers discussing the working-class home both in Britain and beyond, spanning the long 19th and 20th centuries. 

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Re-reading the slum interior
  • Unveiling the working-class home 
  • Material culture and the working-class home
  • Finding a home 
  • The rural ‘working-class’ home
  • ‘Homeless’ homes
  • Mobility and working-class domestic life
  • Teaching the working-class home
  • Presenting the working-class home to the public
  • Visual representations of working-class homes
  • Alternative homes

Confirmed keynote speaker: Dr Nicola Wilson, University of Reading, author of Home in British Working-Class Fiction (Ashgate, 2015).

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, along with a speaker bibliography of up to 125 words to v.holmes@qmul.ac.uk by the 31st March 2017. Poster submissions are also welcome from postgraduates wishing to attend.  Papers will be of 15–20 mins in length, dependent on the number of submissions.

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Event: ‘Studies of Home’ seminar

The next seminar in the Institute of Historical Research seminar series ‘Studies of Home’ convened by the Centre for Studies of Home will be held on Wednesday 1st March at 5.30pm in the North American History Room on the 2nd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House, London.

It will be given by Kathy Burrell (University of Liverpool) with the title ‘The View from the Window: Relational Home-Making in an Inner City Neighbourhood’.

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CFP: Mobilizing Home(s): New Approaches to the Study of Home in Contemporary Literature and Culture

Symposium: Mobilizing Home(s): New Approaches to the Study of Home in Contemporary Literature and Culture

deadline for submissions:
January 15, 2017
full name / name of organization:
Aarhus University; University of Koblenz-Landau
contact email:

Home is a key arena where changes in contemporary societies become a lived experience for the individual. Forms of homemaking can be regarded as a way of dealing with social transformations, whether by positing home as a safe space immune to change, or by adapting it to the requirements of modernization and globalization. The issue of (voluntary or forced) mobility looms large in debates on home, as, for instance, the current migration crisis or the demand for maximum flexibility and mobility of employees in the neoliberal economy shows.

The title of this 2-day-symposium, ‘mobilizing home(s)’, pertains to both the dimension of physical mobility and to the ideological work ‘home’ performs when it is mobilized in specific discourses (e.g. nationalism). We will ask what contributions the study of the arts can make to theorize the complexity of home as a concept and to critically investigate its ideological force. The aim is to enrich existing theories and concepts of home. The complexity of ‘home’ stems from its different dimensions (e.g. spatial, material, social and affective), scales and its positioning at the intersection of different social fields, such as economics, law (home as property), and politics (home and citizenship). Accordingly, new approaches to home may be informed by a wide array of perspectives, ranging from new economic criticism and biopolitics to disability studies, gender studies, critical race theory, or ecocriticism as well as narrative theory and new formalism. We are particularly interested in what the arts bring to the table: how may aesthetic artefacts dealing with home inspire the development of theory? While the dominant focus is on literary and cultural studies, we also welcome contributions from other disciplines that open up a dialogue on theorizations of home.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Forms and strategies of representing home in the arts: Work on current developments in artistic form and/or ways of theorizing different representational strategies (e.g. new approaches to thinking about home as allegory, metonymy and metaphor)
  • Ideologies on the move: work on changing and clashing ideologies of home
  • Moving boundaries: work that reconceptualizes the division between private and public spaces
  • Homelessness as a social problem and challenge: work on representations and theories of homelessness as an extreme state of im/mobility
  • Im/Mobile Bodies and Im/Mobile Homes: work on connections between home making (practices) and embodiment
  • Citizenship and home: Work on the nexus between home as property and notions of citizenship

Visit the symposium website at: http://aias.au.dk/events/mobilizing-homes/

Please send your abstract (ca. 250 words) and a short bio blurb to dorotheebirke@aias.au.dk and butter@uni-landau.de by January 15th, 2017.

Posted in cfp

Event: Centre for Studies of Home: Postgraduate Study Day 2016

Tuesday 8th November 2016

The Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Road, London E2 8EA

The Centre for Studies of Home’s annual postgraduate study day aims to bring together postgraduates providing them with an opportunity to share current research ideas through a series of short papers. The study day is open to all postgraduates working on home and domesticity in both historical and contemporary contexts. Please view the programme hereThe study day is convened by the Centre for Studies of Home, a partnership between the Geffrye Museum and Queen Mary, University of London (www.studiesofhome.qmul.ac.uk). Please book your place via Eventbrite here. The event is free, but places are limited so please book early to secure your place.

If you have any questions please contact Danielle Patten at dpatten@geffrye-museum.org.uk.

Posted in Events

Funding: MA scholarships at QMUL

A funding opportunity for MA research on home at Queen Mary, University of London is available for 2016/17:

Walter Oldershaw Awards (eight awards of £3000 each; deadline 5pm on Wednesday 10 August) across the range of MA/MSc programmes in Geography at QMUL, including the following collaborative research opportunities on MA Geography (full-time or part-time):

·    with the Geffrye Museum of the Home via Centre for Studies of Home on past and present homes, including research on home, migration and the city.

·       with Eastside Community Heritage on community heritage, identity, migration and urban change.

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Event: ‘Invisible Hands’? Domestic workers from the seventeenth century to the present day

‘Invisible Hands’? Domestic workers from the seventeenth century to the present day

One-day conference at the Geffrye Museum of the Home 

Thursday 21 July 2016  

The home has always been a place of domestic work, both paid and unpaid. But domestic workers have often remained hidden from view. The ‘privacy’ of the ‘modern’ home, and its association with leisure and the nuclear family, have long been recognised to conceal the work done within the household, and to render servants and domestic workers ‘invisible’. This one-day conference focuses on the domestic lives and labours of servants and domestic workers. At the very core of home and family life, the organisation and performance of domestic tasks reflects fundamental assumptions about our society and of societies in the past. As the number of domestic workers employed in the UK increases, and the vulnerabilities of these workers are made apparent, it is more important than ever that we recognise the presence of these individuals within the home and the labour involved in domestic work. By presenting current research from across a broad historical period, this conference aims to facilitate interdisciplinary discussions and establish continuities and differences between domestic work in Britain over the past 400 years.

The conference will be held at the Geffrye Museum in London on Thursday 21 July 2016. The Geffrye’s current exhibition Swept Under the Carpet? Domestic Service in London Homes, 1600 – 2000 provides the backdrop for the conference, and offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of domestic servants and workers between 1600 and 2000. The conference is free to attend.

To download a booking form and programme please follow this link: http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/whatson/events/academic/.

Please email dpatten@geffrye-museum.org.uk if you have any questions or queries.

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