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Being at home: space for belonging in a London caff

Hall, Suzanne (2009) Being at home: space for belonging in a London caff. Open House International, 34 (3). pp. 81-87. ISSN 0168-2601

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This paper relates migration and home through the experiences of belonging negotiated by both newcomers and established residents in a South London caff. My account emerges out of an ethnographic exploration of Nick's Caff, a small meeting place off a multi-ethnic, inner city Street. Urban change and social diversity are exemplified in the Walworth Road: a place from which one can hear the chimes of Big Ben and catch glimpses of the London Eye, but which remains curiously detached from the image of a prestigious city; where remnants of white working-class culture juxtapose with a variety of cultures brought from across the globalising world; and where emergent cultures are forged across the difficulties and possibilities of cultural difference. Nick's Caff situates the day-to-day and face-to-face experiences of belonging within a shared space in the contemporary city. This paper explores how different individuals reconstitute conventional understandings of 'home' and 'family' through inhabiting their regular tables in the Caff. I expand on 'belonging' as a mode of social interaction through three key ideas: social space, practice and sociability. I analyse the social and spatial dimensions of everyday interactions in the Caff, and examine whether intermingling within the Caff produces alternative understandings of belonging, beyond the binaries of insider/outsider or local/foreigner.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Research centres and groups > LSE Cities (Cities Programme)
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2012 10:31

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