Open Call: Redefining Oikos

Where do we feel at home? Redefining Oikos

During the last couple of months of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been urged again and again to ‘stay safe and stay home’. It soon became clear that home is a very complex concept and certainly cannot be associated with safety for everyone. What or who determines what home is, and what does it mean to be at home?

In ancient Greece people did not speak of ‘home’ but of ‘oikos’, a social unit made up of the inhabitants of a house (man and woman, with children, grandparents, concubines etc.) The head of the family, the man, was the link with the polis (autonomous community formed by citizens) of which only male free citizens could be members. In a broader concept, oikos meant the possession of the man which could be more than the physical house. Aristotle used the term oikos to describe the natural economy, or ‘household management’, which defines the roles of the members of the social unit and includes everyday activities from farming, cleaning, and cooking to hiring workers and guarding the property.

Oikos has always had complex and contradictory meanings. On the one hand, it denotes private property, belonging and family ties, on the other, politically and historically charged power relations that define who can belong to a space and what its borders are. Households thus function in terms of what is known as ‘oikopolitics’, which determines gender roles, architecture and borders of locality and globality, even laws that govern who belongs to a family, who is considered ‘us’ and who ‘other’. So ‘oikopolitics’ thus concerns migration policies, race ideology, social and cultural identities and labour division. Today, as technological surveillance, reliance on data, trust in biopolitics, laws, cultural rules, and ideas of time and space determine where we are and where we feel at home, the notion of oikos needs to be readdressed and rethought.

For APRIA’s new Open Call, we welcome contributions that delve into the complex meaning of oikos, re-examining concepts of home and the tension between safe and harmful spaces in times of crisis. We look forward to your artistic reflections, propositions, guides, kits and research!

The deadline for sending your submission to is 7 December 2020. All submissions will be read by the APRIA platform Advisory Board. This Board will make a selection of submissions to be published according to the APRIA criteria and guidelines.