Accepted Paper:

'Rhodesian altars': remembering and remaking home in an ex-Rhodesian diaspora community  


Katja Uusihakala (University of Helsinki)

Paper long abstract:

My research concerns white former 'Rhodesians' who have immigrated to South Africa since Zimbabwe's independence. One way of remembering Rhodesia and of building a shared memory narrative is the transportation of homeland in the form of mementos. In this paper I consider how migrant homes are marked as Rhodesian by displays of memorabilia, compiled into what I have called 'Rhodesian altars.' The altars display various artefacts and mementos, such as decorative maps, collections of coins, flags, regimental plaques, commemorative beer mugs and so forth; in short, items that may be categorized as commodified nostalgia. I discuss the way colonial Rhodesia is present and represented in diaspora embedded in these mementos and expressed in rather uniform compositions. Although the mnemonic altars operate as quintessential reminders of the 'lost homeland,' their common features suggest that they also essentially create and express a sense of belonging to the diaspora community.

Panel W018
Material culture, migration and the transnational imaginary