Chiara Bassetti

Across balconies. Interaction in porous home territories in the Italian lockdown

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: public realm, liminal space, civil inattention, undervoicing, pets

Balconies, verandas and courtyards are part of our homes, shared with household or condominium members, but extending into public space for the visibility they allow compared to the indoor. They constitute the porous (Benjamin, Lācis, 1978) borders of the home, and are configure as liminal spaces in the «geography» of private, parochial and public realms of social life (Lofland, 1989). This geography has been reconfigured by/during the lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak. With social life restricted to the home (although many people were actually alone at home) and its liminal spaces, balconies and courtyards were used more as the only functional outdoor space, and were also more visible, as many more eyes were at home, possibly watching. They became home for the public realm, where several interactional practices were enacted to grant and acquire privacy (e.g. civil inattention, «undervoicing », doing oblivious), and also to mitigate the loneliness engendered by home confinement (e.g. «stakeouts» for acquaintances, phone/video calls, interaction with pets). The paper considers such a reconfiguration based on ethnographic study conducted from the balcony of an apartment in Parma, Italy.

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