The notion of forming a research group dedicated to language-based and interdisciplinary-oriented research of diaspora was first raised in a workshop held at the University of Westminster in June 2014, titled The ‘Material Turn’ in Migration Studies: Memory, Emotion and Identity in and across Diasporic World. A total of 12 colleagues from the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, CREAM, EAST medicine research centre and the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies participated in the workshop. Participants had interesting and productive debates on how to conceptualise materiality and mobilities drawing on empirical materials from diverse diasporic experiences in global context.
The conclusion during the final discussion of the workshop, was to establish a new research group bringing together expertise at the University and beyond, to conduct cutting-edge research of new mobilities in comparative perspective. HOMELandS was formally established in October 2014. To distinguish us from other similar research groups in the UK that tend to focus on European experience and prioritize issues of development, security and public policies, the new group is called HOMELandS - Hub for Migration, Exiles, Languages and Spaces. It is the first step in engaging with critical language-based research on the movement of people and things across diasporic spaces, and the foundation for dialogues with wider academic circles and with the public.