Places of heart : objects and personal memory

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This thesis focuses on individual memory and personally held objects as an essential source of orientation and coherence in history. The primary theoretical aim of this thesis is to interrogate the contention that conventional public forms of history do not always reflect how individuals negotiate with the past publicly or privately. Through the use of oral testimony to explore the memories attached to the material culture people keep I will consider why particular objects become sites of memory for individuals, how their significance changes as succeeding generations inscribe them with new meanings and speculate on the ways in which the materiality of the objects can contribute to how different generations construct their own sense of the past. Using the interrelationship between the objects and memories which emerge from the interviews I will discuss the establishment of family and cultural traditions, why people invest objects with particular meanings, the role of gender in the keeping of objects and raise issues regarding the place of personal memory and privately held objects in public history and museology.
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