Migrant homes in more-than-human cities
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 18:39 authored by A. F. M. Ashraful Alam
My thesis adopts more-than-human geographical insights to consider how nonhuman agencies actively shape homes and home-making practices. It explores seventeen rural migrant homes that are informally negotiated in vacant lots in the urban fringes of Khulna city in Bangladesh. These homes are outside the slum stereotypes usually discussed in the developing world context. The broad research question I ask is: how can more-than-human concepts contribute to the understanding of these homes and inform planning with these migrant communities? The question is answered under three empirical threads. First, I seek an appropriate approach to explore more-than-human processes of homemaking while minimizing researcher influence. Focusing on feminist geographers' articulation of 'response' I devise a participatory photography method called 'photo-response' that facilitates families to reflect on their relations with the non-human agencies that inform the politics, practices and materiality of home. The second thread is organised around three themes. First, I explain the ways migrants engage with non-human agencies to negotiate informal access to land and create a sense of home. Second, I develop the concept of more-than-human imaginaries to identify the homemaking practices that contribute to material homes. Third, I utilise the concept of unbounding to explain the ways these homes are sustained by activities that extend beyond the boundaries of home and rely on the broader urban ecologies of the neighbourhood. The final thread considers the implication of these migrant spatialities in rethinking a more radical participatory form of planning that I call 'care-full' planning. I argue for the recognition of the actually existing more-than-human care relations to approach planning for more-than-human cities with and being sensitive to marginal multi-species communities. Overall, my thesis produces alternate accounts of marginal lives and homes beyond Western and human-centrism, highlighting the importance of 'lay' knowledges in rethinking more-than-human cities.