Objects and Identities: Researching Migrants’ Lives through Home Possessions
This chapter will outline the study of the domestic space and its material culture and will demonstrate how material objects in migrants’ homes can reveal their cultural identity. It aims to focus on the material culture of home and to ‘see’ whether there are any objects significant to Russian identity that help Russians feel at home while in the UK.1 The chapter will highlight key characteristics of the Russian diasporic home and focus on several groups of objects: items that are generally thought to represent culture in a stereotypical way; items that relate to the personal histories of owners, who define them as ‘national’ because these objects connect them to significant events and loved ones; and items that make people feel ‘at home’. As my research further shows, the relationship between the meanings of home possessions, identity, and the sense of Russianness can be quite controversial and ambivalent. While for one group the idea of home and belonging is realised through their conflict with the receiving culture, for another it is a method of integration and synthesis (Miller 2010) into a multicultural society. The discussion of the connections revealed in the study between these variations in the meanings of home possessions and the participants’ sense of Russianness will also be presented in this chapter.
KeywordsHome Possession Living Room Russian Language Material Possession Research Migrant
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