Unhoused: Adorno and the Problem of Dwelling is the first book-length study of Theodor Adorno as a philosopher of housing. Treating his own experience of exile as emblematic of late modern life, Adorno observed that twentieth-century dwelling had been rendered “impossible” by nativism, by the decimations of war, and, in the postwar period, by housing’s increasingly thorough assimilation into private property. Adorno’s position on the meaning and prospects for adequate dwelling—a concept he never wrote about systematically but nevertheless returned to frequently—was not that some invulnerable state of home or dwelling should be revived. Rather, Adorno believed that the only responsible approach to housing was to cultivate an ethic of displacement, to learn “how not to be at home in one’s home.”
Unhoused tracks four figurations of troubled dwelling in Adorno’s texts—homelessness, no man’s lands, the nature theater, and the property relation—and reads them as timely interventions and challenges for today’s architecture, housing, and senses of belonging. Entangled as we are in juridical and financial frameworks that adhere to a very different logic, these figurations ask what it means to organize, design, build, and cohabit in ways that enliven non-exclusive relations to ourselves, others, objects, and place.