Readings Feb 15

Posted: February 15, 2012 by shaunpoon in Uncategorized

In this weeks readings we see some very interesting pieces relating to  the notion of what is nostalgic, what ties memories to objects, and what happens to these objects as time passes, do they gain more value or do they depreciate in value based on various conditions? What Berdhal mentions in (N)Ostalgie’ for the present: Memory, longing, and East German thing is very straightforward in her thought process. She provides the reader with a comparative analysis of nostalgia vs Ostalgie, otherwise known as the  term that refers to East German nostalgic aspects of life. What is clear in this reading is the notion of objects as a connection between the new and old. The reading states that “Consuming product of ostalgie is not merely an assertion of identity as eastern germans then, it also recalls an identity as producers that has been lost in this transition (199). The author attempts and succeeds in how objects, games and the museumification of things can enforce cultural values and the East German Identity. She goes to mention that ostal- gia is about the production of a present rather than the reproduction of a past (202). She uses the point that ostalgie can be used to (re)identify oneself with a home or homeland and uses a popular quote of “emigrated without leaving [home]”. This piece articulates how ostalgie can create a commodification  of resistance in Germany and how it tells us more about the present than the past, it is the shift in the value of objects that are linked to re-valuations of a contested past.

In the other reading, Celtic Kitsch: Irish-America and Irish Material Culture, there is similar viewpoint by author Stephanie Rains in that she talks about second generation Irish and makes a connection between modern day Irish descendents in America connecting with certain objects/materials of Irish culture to obtain a sense of home and recognition. The items that are recognized by the diasporic group of Irish Americans are souvenir likes that are based off of their Irish roots, for example the glass described in the Rain article may not have been an inherited heirloom but it embodied tradition for the masses and they were able to relate it culturally. What both pieces touch on rests on the issues of authenticity, in the Berdhal reading we have the various “authentic” cars, game boards etc that provide an uncanny reminder of the past and then in the Rains reading we have objects that, although have not been passed down through generations, hold a significant cultural backing for the American immigrants. For these Americans, obtaining an object, whether souvenir, memento or heirloom, the authenticity that is tied to it can be psychological or tangible, to them, once the object can create of mimic the spirit of the memory itself then they can still garner a connection to the homeland.

With this, I came up with the curiosity of if you can make a person “THINK” that an object has a significant historical background  or cultural significance, if they were to find out that it actually did not, after years of attachment to the object, would it still hold its rappore?

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