Posted: January 26, 2012 by lilzak in Jan 18

January 17, 2012 The Diasporic Lives of Objects Geraldine

An object not just an object when it is used to enhance the identity of a community.
The article by Shankar makes clear the ties a Desi family have with their extended family and community through ‘objects by relying on borrowed, rented, or even imagined encounters with them. The narrations of these objects seem to be a way they inadvertently add value to the owner and the community thus creating further need for more consumption. I would seem as though the language use also shapes identity, status and value of the people through the objects. So, it’s as though the community lives vicariously through the objects. It is a collectively agreement that they will value themselves and their community by these carefully chosen objects.
The idea that “consumption has been described as a language of communication, it is most often considered in the absence of words” is powerful because we often think of consumption in terms of desire, and status or prestige but very unlikely as a form of communication. We don’t often think that a CLK or a TV would say something about the individual or community. The saying ‘actions speaks louder than words is appropriate here because the act or acquiring objects say so much about who we are.
The Desi community does not seem to value the objects in and of themselves. They value them in the context of the community even though it is the individual that acquires these objects. The community value of the Desis takes precedence over the individual a traditional value. The consumption of objects helps to reinforce the community’ value of cohesion regardless of the struggles they face in the outside world. The objects aid in their value of the community by maintaining its validity. Thus when they meet at social gatherings, the objects help to enhance their collective identity when they use language to convey the stories attached to these objects. This is what Shankar refers to as “symbolic communication in which objects alone, in the absence of words, communicate meaning” and these objects are used as “metaphor [that] can give form to ideas precisely because literal language seems inadequate. The narrative of objects goes beyond the community because they can be seen and shared over and over again with different people who encounter the community or its members

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