Reading Heidegger as an immigrant, or ‘displacing Dasein’: the phenomenological implications of displacement

Mersiye Bora

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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In Being and Time, Heidegger demands that readers reflect on their own experiences. As a response to this demand, I argue that the experience of displacement is missing from Heidegger’s existential analytic of Dasein, and that the phenomenon of displacement creates a rich discussion between Heidegger’s fundamental ontology and his later writings on art and technology. The task of this work is to establish a dialogue between Heidegger’s writings and the phenomenon of displacement. This thesis is a product of thinking about displacement through Heidegger, and thinking of Heidegger through displacement.
The first chapter describes how the meaning of immigration as displacement is effaced in everyday political discourse and quantitative approaches, which have an ontological ground in traditional metaphysics. The second chapter explores Heidegger’s phenomenological ontology through his criticism of western ontology, which allows me to show how displacement becomes a philosophical problem. The chapter further argues that the displaced is Dasein, who has lost the world in which it lives and thereby has become homeless. It also considers the primordial homelessness of Dasein, which shows itself in anxiety, and the homelessness of the displaced. Chapter three investigates the differences and similarities between displacement and anxiety. They are similar in terms of disturbing Dasein’s dwelling in the world; however, while anxiety individualises Dasein, displacement removes Dasein entirely, and thereby displacement appears to disturb the preliminary conditions of an individualised self. Chapter four describes displacement as a breach in the unitary phenomenon of being-in-the-world, arguing that even though fundamental ontology is a useful starting point, the analytic of Dasein falls short of fully describing displacement. The last chapter argues that the displacing effect of the work of art helps us understand the meaning in displacement, revealed by the displaced one’s difficulty assimilating with ordinariness. According to Heidegger, the work of art makes the dwelling place possible; however, displaced artists’ works reveal the impossibility of dwelling like Dasein.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Widder, Nathan, Supervisor
  • Somers-Hall, Henry, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017


  • Martin Heidegger
  • Phenomenology
  • Displacement
  • Migration
  • Art

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