Protecting the roof: Conceptualizing 'care' by absent second home owners

Authors: Lauren Wagner*, Maastricht University
Topics: Urban Geography, Migration
Keywords: second home, care, maintenance, mobility, dwelling
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Mid-City, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


“Over and over the things must be dusted and cleaned. Over and over the special objects must be arranged after a move. Over and over the dirt from winter snows must be swept away from the temples and statues, the twigs and leaves removed, the winter cracks repaired” (Young 2005, 143).
Second homes can become emotionally invested with materialities of dwelling, even though moments of dwelling in the home may be intermittent or enacted at a distance. Yet much of the labor of making a ‘home’ requires presence, enacted through persistent surveillance and responsiveness to the many other actors engaged in the physical and social ecology of a house. In increasingly common contexts of ‘dual tenure’ or mobile dwelling, the ordinary responsibilities of home ownership are often lacking the present and active human occupant to do them.
This paper moves towards a theoretical perspective on ‘home’ as an assemblage of technologies, emotions, infrastructures, relationships and institutions. Extracting from experiences of intermittent dwelling in a second home, I ask how does a home ‘work’ without depending on the presence of occupants? Drawing on notes from my own and reported engagements with second homes, I discuss specific ‘breakdowns’ of caring for homes that render the ways that they work – and fail to work – visible.

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