A Place to Call My Own: Navigating Life in the Margins
This thesis explores the lives of people who are, or have recently been, living on the streets in Wellington City. It examines what it means to ‘be and belong’ while living on the streets, the ways in which Streeties become existentially and discursively ‘homeless’, what it means to feel ‘at home’ in the world, and the ways Streeties attempt to make a life worth living on the margins. It does this by exploring the way Streeties carve out new spaces for living in the city, how they construct their sense of self, and the ways in which they hope for a better life. Many of these Streeties had been rejected from the traditional channels which distribute socially legitimate forms of personhood and meaning, while others had actively rejected these channels for impinging on their ability to live a dignified life. Consequently, they have had to carve out new ways of relating to themselves and asserting their autonomy. None of them, however, wanted their autonomy to come at the expense of others. In fact, their struggles for autonomy were also simultaneously struggles for belonging - their autonomy was never isolated or bounded, but was always related to a respect for their position as individuals within wider systems of relations that contained relatives, other Streeties, members of the public, special places, worldviews or spiritual beliefs. The thesis is part ethnographic film, and part written thesis. The film is included on a USB accompanying this thesis.