42 / 2015
Francesco Della Puppa

Home between bidesh and shodesh: Domestication of Living Spaces, Identity and Gender Experiences in the Bangladeshi Diaspora


This article deals with the housing strategies and changing living styles of the Bangladeshi population in a small town in north-eastern Italy. It analyses the re-use and “domestication” of everyday public spaces, as a way of exploring how bidesh (foreign-land) space is transformed into a shodesh, home-like space. A parallel process of re-functionalization occurs in the private sphere. Different forms of cohabitation are put in place to deal with immigrants’ family-based needs, against deteriorating economic conditions.

The process is not without contradictions. For instance, family reunification allows men to recover an important component of their emotional universe, possibly healing the loneliness of migration. Reunified women, though, may experience their new home as an ambivalent place of solitude. Along these lines, the paper also highlights the gap between men’s and women’s views of “home” and “homeland”, in order to make sense of their evolving ways of “feeling at home”.

KEYWORDS: Bangladeshi diaspora, north-eastern Italy, gender, home-making, everyday life

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