Promises of Care
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Living in a time considered the Anthropocene may bring about grievous feelings, and for some, even feelings of unhomeliness. The accelerated anthropogenic ecological and climatic changes and their diverse effects on human and more-than-human lives have increasingly become apparent, and thus worrying. As those changes directly result from human activities, people have started to question what it means to be human. How to feel ‘at home’ living in the Anthropocene is a pressing question for some, and this question may also be explored within the four walls of what they call their home. While physical shelter may be a basic existential need, it is houses and homes, wrapped up in the desire and struggle for belonging in the world, which underpin human sociality. Considering the need to ‘care’, ‘nurture’ and ‘protect’ nature during this epoch, I uncovered how a person’s care practised within the domestic sphere tends to expand to beings outside the domestic unit – to beings on the other side of the world, beings of other species, rivers, and overall nature in its broadest sense. The curation of the domestic sphere itself may be impacted as certain objects within the home have extended significance that may well represent violence, suffering, and exploitation rather than care. As such, by exploring how certain materialities may be invited into or averted from the homes of people living in currently relatively unaffected areas in the Netherlands, namely the Randstad, this may be seen as a practice of care, as well as an experimentation of how to feel at home in the Anthropocene. As I investigated (gendered) categories of care by exploring how they may become reconfigured within the context of caring for nature while living within the Anthropocene, they indicate how domesticity becomes reconfigured within the context of climate change mitigation and sustainability. Through a focus on materials, I traced phenomenological and aesthetical meanings of certain objects together with how the larger collective may enable or constrain a person’s ability to feel at home in the Anthropocene. To conclude, I argue for a reinvention of domesticity, where the current climate change crises are expanding ideas of care beyond that of the domestic unit itself, concurrently impacting the curation of homes.