Oggetti Spaesati, Unhomely Belongings: Objects, Migrations and Cultural Apocalypses

Ilaria Vanni


Abstract

This article analyses first person memories in relation to objects as documented in Belongings, an online exhibition curated through the NSW Migration Heritage Centre. It explores the role of objects in recreating domestic geographies in the process of migration, using the Italian anthropologist Ernesto De Martino’s notion of  ‘crisis of presence’ as the moment when familiar objects become unfamiliar or uncanny by losing their relation with the web of domestic uses, habits, sense of belonging, and cultural memories. In this crisis, objects acquire new layers of meaning entangled in the loss and re-creation of entire life-worlds, relational universes, senses of place, ‘homes’.

Taking Belongings as its case study, this article argues that objects enable the telling and performance of displacement from one place and regrounding in another one as a continuum of affective, embodied and political experiences that question the separation between being at home and being a migrant.

Keywords

Material culture, Italian Australian culture, domestic geographies, crisis of presence, uncanny, cultural apocalypses.

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