Alla Petrenko-Lysak

Documenting Ukraine Grants

"Lost Home": Social Discourse on the Impact of War on the Sense of Home

“Home” is not just walls and objects. Home is about meanings and signs; it is about emotions and sensations: smells, sounds, and materials. The semiotics of home represents the culture of an individual, a group, and the culture as a whole. Culture is embodied in everyday things and practices. Home is the epitome of identity.

In the everyday flow of social time there is virtually no expedient realization of the essence of home except in the utilitarian or pragmatic aspects: buying, renting, or building. The war radically changes the situation. The home loses its status as a space of safety. People become refugees by force. The feeling and realization of the loss of home actualizes the comprehension of its meaning. Later, people will either have to return to the walls that knew the war or build a new home.  But in order to rebuild the walls it is necessary to deal with the loss of the concept of home, which is more than just “a roof over your head”.

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