Longing for HomeForced Displacement and Postures of Hospitality

Longing for HomeForced Displacement and Postures of Hospitality

M. Jan Holton

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780300207620

Publisher: Yale University Press

Abstract

Longing for Home explores the psychological, social, and theological impact of forcibly losing one’s home place and asks two questions: What is it about home that makes its loss so profound? And, How should we think about this theologically? This book explores the notion of home and its loss from the perspectives of four very diverse groups who have suffered forced displacement: an indigenous tribe of Batwa in Uganda, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Congo and Sudan, American soldiers struggling with PTSD, and homeless persons in the United States. The author uses her own experiences in the Ugandan mountains, ethnographic research in refugee camps in Congo and Sudan and internally displaced persons, published stories of American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and life in a transitional facility for homeless persons as windows into these contexts and stories of forced displacement. Through these intense, sometimes tragic encounters, the psychological, social, and theological impact of living without home becomes clear as does the often exclusionary response of the communities in which they seek care. The author suggests that a moral obligation of care grounded in relational postures of hospitality—or predispositions toward the other that precede practices—are at the heart of breaking through social exclusion and helping each to lean into God in ways that invite home of a different kind. The book’s concrete experiences of communities of displacement add a unique element that both challenges and complements psychological and social theories. The end result is a constructive contribution to both practical and public theology.