Helter-Shelter is an ethnographic account of the manner in which an emergency shelter is governed on a daily basis, from the perspective of the personnel who are employed and tasked with providing care.
Prashan Ranasinghe focuses on how the founding ethos of the shelter, an ethic of care, is conceptualized and practiced by examining its successes and failures. Ranasinghe reveals how this logic is diluted and adulterated because of two other important logics, security and legality, which, working alongside, take precedence and trump the import of care. The care that is deployed is heavily legalized and securitized and it is also administered inconsistently and idiosyncratically. As a result, disorder and confusion pervade the shelter.
Helter-Shelter offers a unique perspective on the delivery of care, and how this laudable intention faces such daunting challenges.