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‘Home is where the heart is broken?’: Examining the impact of intimate relationship challenges on meanings of home

This thesis makes an original contribution to emotional and material geographies by addressing the ways in which mutually constituted meanings of home and identity change in the wake of intimate, coupled relationship disruption. It examines practices of home making, unmaking and remaking of ten (nine women and one man) heterosexual individuals who have experienced relationship challenges and have homes the Waikato region of Aotearoa New Zealand. Three methods of data collection - semi-structured interviews; home visits; and, solicited and unsolicited diaries - were used to access the emotional and spatial experiences of this group of people. Feminist, queer and poststructuralist geographical theories are used to analyse the connection between relationships, emotions and materialities of home spaces. My findings are organised into two related themes: materialities and emotions. The first theme - materialities – foregrounds the role of objects for making, unmaking and remaking home and heterosexual couples. Following objects in and out of couple’s homes highlights gendered power relations and the importance of intergenerational relationships. Individual power, as well as the power of objects, is examined, with attention paid to how power and coupledom can be subverted or queered. The second theme – emotions – allows for an understanding of care, love, guilt and shame across the scales of bodies, objects, and homes. Emotions and affect are ‘sticky’ in that they attach to objects and pass between bodies and homes. Physical violence enacted on the home, as well as emotional or financial abusive behaviour within the home, are considered. I also discuss home as a place of healing and recovery. It is hoped that this examination of heterosexual couple relationship breakdown and home disruptions will encourage more critical understandings of geographies of identities, home, materialities and emotions.
Type of thesis
Smith, P. N. (2017). ‘Home is where the heart is broken?’: Examining the impact of intimate relationship challenges on meanings of home (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11631
University of Waikato
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