Domicide: The Global Destruction of Home

A sense of place, the authors do well to remind us, is integral to human well-being. ‘Familiar objects, structures and environments nurture the self, support the continuity of life and act as props to memory and identity.’ The destruction of home, therefore, is an act with wider repercussions than loss of territory. In losing home we also lose a fundamental psychological prop.

Scenes of Palestinian homes being bulldozed are all too familiar. But millions of others around the world are losing their homes each year, in circumstances that are brutal and unreported. Domicide shows just how and why the powerful ‘clear’ the homes that lie in the way of their corporate, political, economic or bureaucratic interests. Domicide plays a role in both domestic and foreign policy, as scorched-earth policies, strategic bombing campaigns and the enormous land consumption of military installations all illustrate.

Often ‘public interest’ is cited as justification. Similarly ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaigns to dispossess and drive out certain groups use ‘self-preservation’ as justification for the worst domicidal and even genocidal atrocities.

This thoroughly researched and groundbreaking book deserves to draw international attention to the crime of ‘domicide’.

New Internationalist issue 352 magazine cover This article is from the December 2002 issue of New Internationalist.
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