On the modalities of the domestic

Veena Das, Jonathan M. Ellen, Lori Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This article focuses on experiences of the domestic-of houses, of intimacy and privacy-and what relation these bear to the kinds of sentiments about life which are given expression as fragile, endangered or fleeting. We think of singularity as lying in the potential for multiple domesticities that emerge at different times and are neither coterminous with family nor indeed with household. Based on fieldwork with African-American and Caribbean families in Miami, Florida and Baltimore, MD, the article tracks how intimacy and alienation marks the constant moves from, to, and through households. This oscillation engenders an itinerant domesticity and life lived in the interstices of the house, the clinic, the prison, and the street. These spaces and places come to bear on what comes to be marked as so-called "African-American Kinship." Given the disproportionate incarceration of African-American men in US prisons, the article contemplates the permeable relation between carceral institutions and the home, as well as the constitution of Kinship as "criminal." All names used in this text are pseudonyms to protect the confidentiality of respondents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-372
Number of pages24
JournalHome Cultures
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Criminality
  • Domesticity
  • Intimacy
  • Kinship
  • Prison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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