Ink drawing of Apartheid South Africa, showing the destruction and desolation of black South African township homes and
Ink drawing of Apartheid South Africa, showing the destruction and desolation of black South African township homes and

‘At home’: a discussion of diaspora and hybridity

By Denise Whitehouse

Abstract:

The meaning of ‘home’ in the context of migration and displacement is the key theme of this paper.

Case studies used to illustrate this paper come from people who left South Africa before, during and after the apartheid era and are now living in Australia and, they are all white. Although white South Africans are themselves a product of colonization, they are also the product of privilege, therefore making the diasporic condition a more complex one.

It is my intention to interrogate this complexity by looking at items of material culture that travelled with the migrants or were acquired afterwards.  In addition, the design, decoration and arrangement of domestic spaces is analysed in terms of creating both a home and an identity that speaks a particular language to those who visit and those who inhabit the space. They have either carried their identities with them in domestic objects such as furniture and cultural items or created hybrid identities through specific acquisitions in Australia.  The paper relies upon ethnographic research conducted with individuals and families in their homes. Visual and transcribed information will contribute to understandings of the meaning of migrant homes and the relationship of this material culture with national identity.

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