Hege Høyer Leivestad, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Lives on Wheels: Caravan Homes in Contemporary Europe

In public discourse the caravan has time and again been connected to stigmatised groups in society. Nevertheless, this vehicle-home hybrid has held a visible position in the leisure landscape of Western Europe in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. An increasing use of mobile dwellings, associated with new waves of lifestyle mobility, resonates with a common and strong association between such vehicle homes and a perceived freedom of mobility. But what happens when presumably mobile caravans are used for long-term and full-time “immobile” housing? Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted on leisure campsites in Spain and Sweden, as well as within the camping industry, this study depicts how the caravan’s hybrid material qualities both come to fit and challenge conventional working class domestic ideals. I thus tune in on what I identify as an emergence of a non-normative housing form in a Western European context, wherein materiality and mobility become interrelated through a temporal, spatial and social notion of potential mobility. Addressing how the caravan as a potentially mobile domestic form produces specific spatiotemporal imaginations and practices, I show how it furthermore comes to be incorporated into a multifaceted withdrawal to a “good life” in times of uncertainty.

Examiner: Johan Lindquist, Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

All seminars in the series.