Strangers at Home: Place, Belonging, and Australian Life Writing (New York: Cambria Press)

Jack Bowers

What does it mean to belong? When we belong, how do we recognise it as belonging? What role does belonging play in the formation of self-identity?

As a provocative discussion of contemporary Australian life writing, Strangers at Home examines what it means to belong and what belonging means for self-identity. Through a study of the intersections between personal and social identities, Strangers at Homeshows how place is essential to identity: contrary to the conventions of solipsism, a sense of self always entails that the self, even when it looks inward, must always locate that self by looking outward into the world, situating the body, and recognising that neither self nor body are either in or out of that place. This important study shows how writers constitute their selves socially, historically, relationally, communally and existentially, and how their sense of attachment—to belong or feel estranged from—realises these selves into some narrative coherence.

“A very accessible and readable volume, as well as intriguing and original in its approach. Bowers has achieved something here that is unique, and that should appeal to anyone who has given any thought to the character of their life, to the stories through which their life is shaped, to the places with which their life is inextricably entangled.” —Jeff Malpas, Distinguished Professor, University of Tasmania

Jack Bowers teaches in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University in Canberra.