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Beside One's Self

Homelessness Felt and Lived

Catherine Robinson

Publication Year: 2011

What is it to feel homeless? How does it feel to be without the orienting geography of home? Going beyond homelessness as a housing issue, this book uniquely explores the embodied, emotional experiences of homelessness. In doing so, Robinson reveals much about existing gaps in service responses, in community perceptions, and in the ways in which homelessness most often becomes visible as a problem for policy makers. She argues that the emotional dimension of displacement must be central to contemporary practices of researching, understanding, writing, and responding to homelessness. She situates the issue of homelessness at the nexus of important, broader intellectual and methodological developments that take bodily and spatial experience as their starting point.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Front Matter

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pp. ix-xviii

The first day of our holiday brought rain. As I stood on the balcony of the rented apartment watching the drizzle thicken along the coast I was alight with rage. I had completed the project fi eldwork only to be faced with this. Three weeks of hot sun as I melted in boarding houses, trudged...

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pp. xix

This book emerges in a large part from my experiences working on a number of funded projects on homelessness since 2002. Though I do not explicitly develop material from all of them here, they include “Understanding Iterative Homelessness: The Case of People with Mental Disorders"...

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pp. 1-22

In confronting the incompleteness of my past research writings, I at once confront what I have come to see as an “emotional retreat” (Chamberlayne 2004, 347) in homelessness research. This is a retreat Prue Chamberlayne (ibid., 337) traces in the delivery of services to homeless...

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1 Corporeography

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pp. 23-50

In this chapter, I aim to give a fuller account of the way in which I think my gut feelings about homelessness have formed through corporeal engagement. I do so as a disruption to social scientifi c approximations of homelessness and with an insistence that engagement in...

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2 Beside One’s Self

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pp. 51-78

It was my shift to biography that fi nally allowed a more complete engagement with the trauma that accumulates in homeless people’s lives. By the start of my biographic research on homelessness and mental disorders in 2002, I had also been doing relief shifts as a youth accommodation...

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3 “Doing the Geographical”

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pp. 79-104

Though displacement may begin with dislocation from the psychological and corporeal territories that constitute somatic geography, also triggered in homelessness are trajectories of a broader physical placelessness. Not only do homeless people experience traumatic places but they...

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4 Outside Community

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pp. 105-129

As Josie so bluntly summarized, the lack of access to spacefull and timefull place indelibly marked young homeless people as alien. Feeling “abnormal,” estranged, unable to dwell in place and time in the often doubled contexts of trauma and transience, young people routinely experienced...

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pp. 130-148

“I won’t look while I’m doing this,” she said, “as I’ll bias myself.” Her face became distant as she focused her seeing self through the hands that palpated my belly. What could she have seen anyway? There was yet opaque skin that I’d stared at often enough myself. I imagined the small...


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pp. 149-162


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pp. 163-170

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651352
E-ISBN-10: 081565135X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632528
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632525

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2011