Feeling sick of home?

A Cultural Study of Postmigrant Homesickness in Contemporary Denmark

PhD defence by Anna Meera Gaonkar.

Assessment committee

  • Associate professor Laura Louise Schultz, Chair (University of Copenhagen)
  • Professor Elahe Haschemi Yekani (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
  • Professor Stefan Jonsson (Linköping University)

Head of Defence

  • Associate professor Karen Arnfred Vedel (University of Copenhagen)

Copies of the thesis will be available at:

  • Copenhagen University Library Søndre Campus - Humanities and Law, Karen Blixens Plads 7
  • The Royal Library (the Black Diamond), Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1


Feeling Sick of Home? is a cultural study of expressions of post-migrant homesickness in contemporary Denmark. The dissertation stimulates a twofold meaning of homesickness as feeling sick for home and feeling sick of home. Addressing effect as a property of the social, the study analyses a range of artistic, cultural, and parliamentary political expressions of homesickness in Danish society. Within the realm of art and culture, the study addresses homesickness from the perspective of racialised members of society who are born or primarily raised in Denmark. Does a question thus arise of how we can account for homesickness when the homesick subject is not away from home? Within the realm of parliamentary politics – more specifically within deliberations on the management of the social housing sector and its populations – the dissertation submits that homesickness manifests as nativist longings for national pasts and futures with fewer migrants from outside Europe. This antagonistic variant of homesickness partly results in affective evictions of racialised and migrated residents of social housing estates. Combining affect theory and a post-migrant analytic, the dissertation creates a conceptual framework around post-migrant homesickness, which considers society’s discursive obsession with migrants and negotiations of the configuration of the national homebody. In addition to providing a new vocabulary for the cultural study of homesickness, the study contributes to an understanding of Danish society as a post-migrant society in which migration-related effects are in intense circulation. The dissertation is organised in two parts: Part I carves out the conceptual European history of homesickness and points to its limitations for contemporary analytical purposes; Part II is a cultural analysis of post-migrant homesickness as affective inheritances of migration within the family unit, feelings of unhomeliness impelled by societal forces, and affective evictions in parliamentary politics.