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Locating processes of identification: studying the precipitates of re-memory through artefacts in the British Asian home

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Abstract:

Memory has been figured as an important process of placing and locating people and communities, both geographically and socially. Memory has also been significant in research on people who are not part of a formal record of history. This memory work includes a focus on black identity, especially in the work of Toni Morrison and Paul Gilroy. This paper seeks to examine the relevance of memory and re-memory for the social geographies of the South Asian population in Britain. In the first section I examine visual and material cultures as mechanisms for memory, especially their role in figuring diasporic positioning, and identity politics. These memories are in the form of testimonies and biographical narratives. In the paper I have argued for the relevance and value of re-memory in understanding the narratives of British Asian heritage in the everyday domestic environment. Re-memory is an alternative social narrative to memory as it is a form of memory that is not an individual linear, biographical narrative. Re-memory is a conceptualization of encounters with memories, stimulated through scents, sounds and textures in the everyday. ‘Home possessions’ constitute precipitates of re-memories and narrated histories. These are souvenirs from the traversed landscapes of the journey, signifiers of ‘other’ narrations of the past not directly experienced but which incorporate narrations of other's oral histories or social histories that are part of the diasporic community's re-memories. Collectively, visual and material cultures are identified as precipitates of these re-memories in the form of historical artefacts of heritage and tradition.

Keywords: domestic cultures; identity; material cultures; memory; re-memory

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0020-2754.2004.00303.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE, Email: d.tolia-kelly@durham.ac.uk

Publication date: September 1, 2004

bpl/tran/2004/00000029/00000003/art00004
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