Accepted Paper:

My home is a bridge between my old and new countries: immigrants' narratives about home-making   


Maria Yelenevskaya (Technion, Israel Institute of Technology)

Paper Short Abstract:

Making a home is an essential part of settling down. Immigrants’ homes reflect bifocality of everyday practices, cherished possessions and images of an ideal home. Focusing on objects anchoring identity, the paper discusses transformation of values and allegiances fostered by cultures in contact.

Paper long abstract:

Home is an embodiment of a place where one feels safe and it often serves as a metaphor for a familiar territory. No wonder then that in the first stages of post-immigration life the role of belongings that can serve as components of personal or family identities and are metonymically associated with family and friends who stayed behind is particularly significant. As immigrants accumulate new experiences their tastes in possessions and attachment to them can change under the influence of natural factors, such as climate, changes in the socio-economic situation, the culture of the receiving society and their own emergent bi- or multilingualism.

The goal of this paper is to analyze which possessions are perceived by immigrants as important for the stability of self-perception and affiliation and how they reflect their pre- and post-immigration experiences. Fieldwork for the study was conducted among Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel and the data includes in-depth interviews, photographs of immigrants' homes and the author's participant observation.

Focusing on objects endowed with symbolic meanings, we will discuss how immigrants' homes reflect the dual frame of reference (Guarnizo 1997) in everyday practices, cherished possessions and images of an ideal home. Whether consciously or unconsciously, immigrants maintain and deepen their connections to the host culture without abandoning the old one and gradual transformation of their homes testifies to the transformation of values and allegiances, as well as fluidity of identities that are forever in flux.

Panel Mig05
Images of home away from home (Migration and Mobility Working Group)