Sara Bonfanti, Aurora Massa, Alejandro Miranda Nieto

Whiffs of home. Ethnographic comparison in a collaborative research study across European cities

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Collaborative Ethnography; Comparison; Migration; Home; Smell.

This article discusses how a process of ethnographic comparison has taken place in a project dealing with home and migration, with a particular focus on the social qualities of smell. This project highlights comparative ethnography across case studies with different social groups of reference and country settings. We have covered five European countries (Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Sweden), focusing on urban neighbourhoods and engaging with economic and forced transnational migrants from South America, South Asia and the Horn of Africa. We centre on smell as a form of homemaking in migratory contexts, analysing the tension between the affective dimension of food smell in domestic environments, as well as the normative dimension of smell in public spaces. In laying three empirical cases side by side, we reflect on the evocative and divisive qualities of smell to illustrate how our collaboration impelled a comparative analysis of peculiar ethnographic results that yielded overarching interpretations.

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