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Moving Subjects, Moving Objects

Moving Subjects, Moving Objects: Transnationalism, Cultural Production and Emotions

Edited by Maruška Svašek
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Moving Subjects, Moving Objects
    Book Description:

    In recent years an increasing number of scholars have incorporated a focus on emotions in their theories of material culture, transnationalism and globalization, and this book aims to contribute to this field of inquiry. It examines how 'emotions' can be theorized, and serves as a useful analytical tool for understanding the interrelated mobility of humans, objects and images. Ethnographically rich, and theoretically grounded case studies offer new perspectives on the relations between migration, material culture and emotions. While some chapters address the many different ways in which migrants and migrant artists express their emotions through objects and images in transnational contexts, other chapters focus on how particular works of art, everyday objects and artefacts can evoke feelings specific to particular migrant groups and communities. Case studies also analyse how artists, academics and policy makers can stimulate positive interaction between migrants and non-migrant communities.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-324-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION Affective Moves: Transit, Transition and Transformation
    (pp. 1-40)
    Maruška Svašek

    The principal aim of this volume is to explore the emotional dimensions of subject and object mobility. Mobility or ‘transit’ (see below) are terms used to describe the different processes at play when people and things cross geographical, social and cultural boundaries as they move through time and space. Emotional dynamics are part and parcel of these processes. By exploring the different ways in which mobile individuals relate emotionally to changing material environments, and by investigating how transportable objects evoke feelings in distinct socio-geographical milieux, the book aims to contribute to recent debates about globalization, cultural production and emotions.


  6. 1 Materiality, Memories and Emotions: A View on Migration from a Street in South London
    (pp. 41-54)
    Fiona R. Parrott

    This chapter explores how memories and emotions evoked by mundane possessions such as photographs, furniture, music and clothing can illuminate ‘the complex forms of subjectivity and feeling that emerge through geographical mobility’ (Conradson and McKay 2007: 167; see also Rapport and Dawson 1998). I draw on recent approaches to materiality, which emphasize how sensation and emotion need to be thought about together as responses to objects (Dudley 2010; Edwards 2010), and use this approach to develop the study of migratory life histories that have become central to anthropological accounts of the complexity of migrant identities (Gardner 2002; Chamberlain and Leydesdorff...

  7. 2 The Objects of Christmas: The Politics of Festive Materiality in the Lives of Polish Immigrants
    (pp. 55-74)
    Kathy Burrell

    This chapter will consider the varying experiences of Christmas among Polish immigrants in Britain, analysing the changing importance of key foodstuffs and artefacts in constructions of the festival in the different geographic contexts of Poland and Britain. For cultures which celebrate it, Christmas is evidently a focal point in the annual calendar. While the religious significance of the Christmas celebration is obviously fundamental, the relevance of Christmas reaches beyond spiritual meaning. As Miller has argued, Christmas is firmly embedded in, and reflective of, the social, economic and cultural contexts of the worlds within which it is observed. The rituals surrounding...

  8. 3 From Shop to Chapel: The Changing Emotional Efficacy of the Statue of the Virgin Mary of El Rocío within a Spanish Community in Belgium
    (pp. 75-95)
    Eddy Plasquy

    In 1990, six Spanish migrant youngsters, all members of a local cultural club, launched the idea of organizing an outdoor feast (romería) in the Flemish town of Vilvoorde. They knew that, in order to do this in a proper Andalusian way, it would have to be done in honour of a Virgin Mary, and they chose the Virgin Mary of El Rocío (Virgen del Rocío) because they had heard she was well-known in Andalusia. None of them, nor their parents, had a special devotion towards this image. Lacking a statue, they went to Brussels to buy one in a specialized...

  9. 4 Sweater Business: Commodity Exchange and the Mediation of Agency in the Tibetan Itinerant Sweater Trade in India
    (pp. 96-116)
    Timm Lau

    Let us say you were in an Indian town at the onset of winter, and you had forgotten to pack a warm sweater. In all likelihood, all you would need to do was to get a taxi or rickshaw and ask the driver to take you to the ‘Tibetan sweater market’. Most drivers would immediately know where to go: to a market or a bunch of market stalls, built by Tibetan itinerant traders, where you would be able to choose from a wide range of sweaters to keep you warm. Since the 1980s, Tibetans in India have very successfully filled...

  10. 5 Moving Tamils, Moving Amulets: Creating Self-identity, Belonging and Emotional Well-being
    (pp. 117-136)
    Anne Sigfrid Grønseth

    This chapter explores relations between Tamil refugees in northern Norway and objects such as blessed amulets and strings of cotton threads, leather or similar materials, images of Hindu deities and ritual entities. My original study focused on illness and well-being among Tamil refugees, employing a phenomenological approach to the study of the body inspired by Merleau-Ponty (1962) and Bourdieu (1977). Revisiting the material for this chapter to explore relations between Tamils in exile and certain artefacts expands on how Tamil refugees experience their everyday life as part of active transnational relations, and relations with kin, deities and Tamil Eelam, the...

  11. 6 The Price of Progress: ‘Dying Arts’ among the Karen of the Andaman Islands, India
    (pp. 137-158)
    Sameera Maiti

    It was around late afternoon in Webi (Mayabunder, North Andaman Island) while I was returning to where I was staying after a day-long interview session that I saw a group of shy yet chirpy young Karen girls and boys going towards the local church.¹ When asked, they informed me that they were going to practice thetaka, their traditional dance form, with Father Saw Setha and his wife. I found this interesting because although I was collecting information about Karen arts and crafts I was also interested in other ethnographic details, which I felt would be important in the light...

  12. 7 Artefacts as Mediators through Time and Space: The Reproduction of Roots in the Diaspora of Lussignani
    (pp. 159-177)
    Enrico Maria Milič

    In 2007, as part of my research on Italians originating from the island of Lussìn (today known by the Croatian name of Lošinj), which lies in the Adriatic Sea between Italy and the Balkans, I looked through a book of old photographs that illustrated the life of Italians on the island before their postwar exile. In the introduction, the editor, an elderly woman from Lussìn, stated:

    I have been the ‘curator’ of this photographic book about old times, but there is a need to credit the many, so many Lussignani and friends of Lussignani who helped me in so many...

  13. 8 Making Connections: Biography, Art, Affect and Politics
    (pp. 178-200)
    Maggie O’Neill

    This chapter provides an account and analysis of an arts research project that used participatory action research and participatory arts to explore what belonging means to members of four transnational communities living in Derby, Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham.¹ Those involved were either seeking asylum or had been granted refugee status, and included a group of emerging and professional artists. Our collective research and art making was an outgrowth of previous work that took place as part of a regional network called ‘Making the Connections: Arts, Migration and Diaspora’.² The network had identified the pivotal role of arts and culture in...

  14. 9 Crossing Borders: Migration, Memory and the Artist’s Book
    (pp. 201-221)
    Deborah Schultz

    During the Cold War, many artists left the communist states of Central and Eastern Europe due to political persecution. However, many others emigrated to follow their dreams of success in the ‘free world’, where artists were perceived as succeeding according to the merits of their work rather than as the result of political or other affiliations. For Arnold Daghani (1909–1985), migration brought with it hopes of recognition and success. He left communist Romania, not due to persecution but ambition, and finally settled in the UK in search of his artistic dream. While living in Romania, he refused to work...

  15. 10 The Emotions and Ethnicity in the Indo-Caribbean
    (pp. 222-244)
    Leon Wainwright

    This opening epithet is from a piece of writing by the Indo-Trinidadian M.P. Alladin (1919–1980), published in 1975 during his tenth year in office as Trinidad and Tobago Director of Culture. It draws a distinction between ‘artists and craftsmen’ – indeed, this is the title of Alladin’s essay – and the notion of ‘origins’.

    In Trinidad, roughly equal numbers of people identify with South Asian (or ‘East Indian’) as with African backgrounds, while the remaining population comprises a growing spectrum of ethnic mixes. Trinidad’s large community of East Indians are descended from those who came shortly after emancipation as indentured laborers,...

  16. 11 ‘What You Perceive Is What You Conceive’: Evaluating Subjects and Objects through Emotions
    (pp. 245-268)
    Maruška Svašek

    In 2006, I asked my five-year-old son to tell me what he thought of some photographs of a performance by George Hughes, entitled ‘What You Perceive Is What You Conceive’. I had invited the US-based Ghanaian artist to the conference ‘Migrant Art, Artefacts and Emotional Agency’, an AHRC-funded event organized at Queens University Belfast where anthropologists, art historians and artists, presented papers about material culture, emotions and human mobility. George’s performance was one of the highlights and was held in the Performance Room of the then School of Anthropological Studies (now the School of History and Anthropology). As a temporary...

  17. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 269-272)
  18. Index
    (pp. 273-286)