Between field and home: Notes from the balcony

Publication Type:

Journal Articles

Source:

Cultural Geographies (2021)

Keywords:

balcony, ethnography, gender, liminal, mobilities, more-than-human, space

Abstract:

Balconies, windows and terraces have come to be identified as spaces with newfound meaning over the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and concomitant lockdowns. There was not only a marked increase in the use of these spaces, but more importantly a difference in the very nature of this use since March 2020. It is keeping this latter point in mind, that I make an attempt to understand the spatial mobilities afforded by the balcony in the area of ethnographic research. The street overlooking my balcony, situated amidst an urban village in the city of Delhi – one of my field sites, is composed of middle and lower-middle class residents, dairy farms and farmers, bovines and other nonhumans. In this note, through ethnographic observations, I reflect upon the balcony as constituting that liminal space between ‘field’ and ‘home’, as well as, as a spatial framing device which conditions and affects our observations and interactions. This is explored by examining two elements – the gendered nature of the space, and the notion of ‘distance and proximity’, through personal narratives of engaging-with the field, and subjects-objects of study in the city.