A Phenomenology of Home: Jean Améry on Homesickness


  • Martin Shuster Goucher College




Améry, phenomenology, statehood, home, homesickness


As the contemporary nation state order continues to produce genocide and destruction, and thereby refugees, and as the national and international landscape continues to see the existence of refugees as a political problem, Jean Améry’s 1966 essay “How Much Home Does a Person Need?” takes on a curious urgency. I say ‘curious’ because his own conclusions about the essay’s aims and accomplishments appear uncertain and oftentimes unclear (note how Améry himself surprisingly suggests that his remarks will have “little general validity” – a statement that will need to be properly situated). My aim in what follows, then, is twofold. First, I intend to make clear the rich, suggestive, but perhaps underdeveloped phenomenological assumptions involved in this essay. Second, I want to show—but, unfortunately, only show—how these assumptions and Améry’s analysis points to a problem at the heart of contemporary conceptions of statehood, one which demands significantly more discussion.