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Accepted Paper:

The minimalist universe of things – On researching relationships in minimalist households  
Heike Derwanz (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

When people become minimalists, their households and belongings change visibly. But in their everyday practices and narratives, their relationships to the things they now own is predominant. Building on an ethnography in 45 minimalist households, the talk will enquire this “new” balance of things.

Paper long abstract:

In an era of affluence and overflow, minimalism presents a way to live with mindfulness and care. Minimalists research and evaluate their surrounding and adapt it to a lifestyle of less, both in a material and social level (Derwanz 2022).

In the research project “Textile minimalists. Pioneers of sustainable action?” we have been researching 45 minimalist households in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, been on minimalist meet ups and a minimalist convention. We found that becoming minimalist is a process often described as a personal way. The first phase is the most recognizable when a massive amount of things is sorted out. But the minimalist everyday changes too when the relationship to the things that are left becomes closer. Two other sets of practices come into view, care and alternative forms of consumption that all re-arrange things (Derwanz and Strebinger 2021).

As relationship to things in the Global North have been framed through mass- and overconsumption in the last decades, things are evaluated for a different set of qualities, their lifecycle and the things that are needed to sustain them in the minimalist process. The talk draws on the notion of Dinguniversum (universe of things, Hahn 2015) to describe how things in a household are also depended on each other and visits other concepts in Material Culture to research their social lifes.

Panel P099b
Reordering Domestic Spaces: Wild Ecologies of Things in the 21st Century II
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -