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Home Possessions

Although so much of the life we care about takes place at home, this private space often remains behind closed doors and is notoriously difficult for researchers to infiltrate. We may think it is just up to us to decorate, transform and construct our homes, but in this book we discover a new form of 'estate agency', the active participation of the home and its material culture in the construction of our lives. What do the possessions people choose to take with them when moving say about who they are, and should we emphasize the mobility of a move or the stability of what movers take with them? How is the home an active partner in developing relationships? Why are our homes sometimes haunted by 'ghosts'?.
This intriguing book is a rare behind-the-scenes exposé of the domestic sphere across a range of cultures. Examples come from working class housewives in Norway, a tribal society in Taiwan, a museum in London, tenants in Canada and students from Greece, to produce a genuinely comparative perspective based in every case on sustained fieldwork. So Japan, long thought to be a nation that idealizes uncluttered simplicity, is shown behind closed doors to harbour illicit pockets of disorganization, while the warmth inside Romanian apartments is used to expel the presence of the state.
Representing a vital development in the study of material culture, this book clearly shows that we may think we possess our homes, but our homes are more likely to possess us.
Product Details

Table of Contents

1. Behind Closed Doors; Daniel Miller (Professor of Anthropology, University College London); 2. Social Aspirations in North London; Alison J. Clarke (Royal College of Art); 3. Organised Disorder: Moving Furniture in Norwegian Homes; Pauline Garvey (University College London); 4. The Refurbishment of Memory; Jean-Sebastien Marcoux (University College London); 5. The Taste of Home; Elia Petridou (University College London); 6. Possessions; Daniel Miller (University College London); 7. Home Sweet Home: Tangible Memories of an Uprooted Childhood; Anat Hecht (University College London); 8. Building Conjugal Relationships: The Devotion to Houses amongst the Paiwan of Taiwan; Chang-Kwo Tan (University College London); 9. A Man Will Get Furnished: Wood and Domesticity in Urban Romania; Adam Drazin (University College London); 10. The 'Untidy' House in Japan; Inge Daniels (University College London); Index

Promotional Information

Also available in paperback, 9781859735855 GBP17.99 (October, 2001)

About the Author

Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology, University College London. Recent books include 'A Theory of Shopping', 'The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach' (with Don Slater) and Ed. 'Car Cultures'.


'[Home Possessions] presents a series of themes indicative of a key shift in the study of material culture and the home, placing the material agency of the home firmly on the agenda for futre empirical and theoretical work on the home. It should be popular amongst undergraduates and is important reading for any researcher working in this area.' Anthropological Theory

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