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Sara Bäckström

Ph.D. student in ethnology, studying the contemporary interest in deserted houses to find out the conditions and fantasies that make practices of "saving" deserted houses meaningful.

Works at

Doctoral student at Department of Culture and Media Studies Section: -
Humanisthuset, Biblioteksgränd 3 (huvudentré) Umeå universitet, 901 87 Umeå

Ph.D. student in etnology. In Sweden, people are buying, renovating, and moving into deserted houses, often while sharing their processes on social media. But what does it mean to "save" a deserted house? Therefore, as an ethnologist interested in the cultural aspects of everyday life, I collect people’s stories to analyze these "rescuing processes" and capture and present the conditions and fantasies that make practices of "saving" deserted houses meaningful.

#desertedhouse—an ethnological study of driving forces, rescue processes, and communities—is my thesis work and intends to provide knowledge about the prevailing living conditions and beliefs that make it meaningful to "save" a deserted house. Meaning-making is studied through ethnographic fieldwork (digital ethnography, observations, and interviews) on people who seek out and share their photos of visits to deserted houses as an "adventure in the past" on Instagram and Facebook, as well as various initiatives that try to identify "empty houses" to use these during the current housing shortage, and, finally, people who have bought or started renovating a deserted house to make it a "home" again while sharing their "rescue" process on social media.

With a theoretical starting point in the perspective of logic, as formulated by Jason Glynos and David Howarth (2007), the aim is to create understandings of the shifting meanings that are actualized during the house process and of the positions that are created when people talk about their experiences of seeking out, photographing, mediating, buying, and renovating a deserted houses.

The study began in autumn 2022 and is expected to be completed in autumn 2026.