21 Nov 2023 17:00 - 18:30 Online


Part of the inReach – /ɪn riːtʃ/ project


Kelly Fagan Robinson (Department of Social Anthropology)


  • Nikita Simpson (SOAS)
  • Suad Duale (Psychotherapist and PhD Candidate, Wolverhampton)
  • Elizabeth Storer (Queen Mary University)


In Somali language, the word hooyo is used to refer to both ‘home’ and to ‘mother’. Its etymological origin is in the word hoy, meaning womb. The mother’s womb is said to be one’s first home. Traditional Somali houses are built in the shape of wombs to reflect this link. Amongst Birmingham’s large Somali diaspora, such a semantic and symbolic link between motherhood and home is rendered fraught by a housing crisis. This paper reveals the prevalence of homelessness, particularly amongst Somali single mothers in Birmingham. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted at the intersection of anthropology, geography and counselling psychology, this paper examines how experiences of homelessness in the present trigger longer histories of coloniality and displacement for Somali single mothers. It particularly dwells on the methodological implications of conducting research with and for communities experiencing distress and displacement, who have been historically excluded from processes of policy and knowledge production.

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About the inReach project

About inReach – /ɪn riːtʃ/

  1. inside the distance to which someone can stretch out their hand.
  2. within the capacity of someone to attain or achieve something
  3. (inversion of ‘outreach’) considers the expertise of those usually closed off from academic and artistic reception.

The term ‘inReach’ signifies any action which reshapes elite institutions as inclusive domains through centrally placing work by people otherwise absent in traditional arts and academic spaces. This series will critically question and therefore set to prove false the too-common trope that certain people are ‘hard to reach.’ By bringing artists, academics, and key local publics together via CRASSH, inReach will amplify the underacknowledged value of lived expertise of socially marginalised people, while also fostering ongoing debates about transience, stigma and inequality in the UK.

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Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk