Objects do indeed create people

Posted: January 18, 2012 by jonathansantosdts403diasporiclivesofobjects in Jan 18


This week’s readings examined the relationship between objects and Diasporic communities. After examining the stories found within the readings, I began to realize how important objects are as they engage in uniting people across the globe. To me, the two readings, “Living in a Material World: Object Biography and Transnational Lives”, and “Material Objects As Facilitating Environments: Palestinian Diaspora” illustrate how objects unite people to a specific Diasporic group.  These two readings illustrate the narrative of Diasporic object’s and their transnational voyage. Furthermore, both readings depict how important a role objects play in creating a collective identity amongst Diasporic communities and individuals.

“Living in a Material World: Object Biography and Transnational Lives”-Karen Schamberger

The author of this reading sought out to prove how an object fashioned the life story (biography) of two Diasporic individuals. The two objects mentioned within the reading were; a traditional Latvian dress and a Vietnamese musical instrument, “Dan Tre”. The stories of both objects suggest to me that objects play a fundamental role in the shaping of all transnational lives. I am of the opinion that the author successfully argued his point. Through creating the objects both individuals, Mrs.Guna Kinne and Mr. Minh Tam Nguyen established, expressed and were able to preserve their culture and identity.  It is evident that both the dress and the musical instrument represent the experiences of these two Diasporic individuals, especially the resistance and adversity they and many others faced while immigrating. This reading conveyed the significance of objects by illustraighting the clear relation between important moments and their respective objects.

“Material objects as facilitating environments: The Palestinian Diaspora”-Zeynep Turan

The author of this reading sought out to prove how objects within the Palestinian Diasporic community signify a collective Palestinian identity. Hence the argument can be made that due to their long history of displacement, Palestinians are able to establish a sense of homeland through certain objects. After examining this reading I now know that objects represent who you are, your origins and your history. It is evident from such work that objects both serve as a reminder of the past (history) and as a tool for continuing a culture (future).

Within such work, the author interviewed four American Palestinians; Mariam Haddad, Samy Malik, Bashar Khanafi and Warda Raleh. When examining these four interviews it is evident that there is a range of different relationships with objects. For Mariam it was photos of grandparents and a cross pendant that bridged the gap between her and her Palestinian roots. For Samy, it was his Palestinian scarf that represented a country of refugee. For Bashar, it was the tattoo of the Palestinian flag on his back that reminded him of the everyday Palestinian struggle. For Warda, it was her mother’s dress, her numerous passports and the metal bed frame that reminded her of home. The author successfully argued his point as it is evident that people who are displaced surround themselves with objects that stimulate remembering home.


Within both works it is evident that objects do indeed play an important role in shaping the lives of Diasporic individuals. Both readings portray how objects shape and reflect ones experience and are also used to establish a sense of belonging and a connection to the home land. I conclude with 2 questions, (1) If displaced people do not control what happens to them do they have the power to choose what they remember? (2) What if an object that brings together a community harms, oppresses or destroys another community.  Is it still a good object?

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