'Thank God, I'm back!': (Re)defining the nation as a homely place in relation to journeys abroad

Michael Skey

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Growing individual mobility has been a key element in the re-evaluation of the links between (national) place and identity in what has been labelled a'borderless world'. In this paper, an alternative perspective is provided by exploring the ways in which discussions around travel are used to redefine the nation as a bounded, familiar and homely place.

In the first section, a number of key themes in the wider literature on ‘home’ are identified and applied to the nation, notably the idea that ‘homely spaces’ are imagined and experienced in relation to journeys elsewhere. This idea is then evidenced by a range of empirical data, which shows how individuals are often made aware of their own national identity and allegiances, when negotiating encounters with other people and cultural forms.

In discussing the discomfort and uncertainty they experience in ‘foreign’ locales, the national home is defined as a secure base from which to proceed and, most importantly, to return. Interestingly, these types of views were expressed by a range of social actors, ranging from college students, who travelled widely and with great enthusiasm, to retired people, who were increasingly restricted in their ability to visit foreign locales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-252
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cultural Geography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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