Situational Identity and The Materiality of Illegal Immigration

Author(s): Lori Lee

Year: 2014


This paper centers on a material culture analysis of the contents of an abandoned emigrant’s backpack found in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Documents and objects identify the emigrant as a young Haitian man. These objects are remnants from the long, arduous journey of a displaced individual from a politically and economically conflicted homeland to a contested U.S. territory. The objects are tangible artifacts of struggle, persistence, and agency. They are simultaneously artifacts of identity--expressions of self-definition as a Haitian emigrant in transit. The material culture provides a means of accessing the multifaceted identity of a Haitian migrant, his sense of self, and how it was historically constructed within the society in which he lived. The search for the identity of ‘Ulysses’ serves as a microcosm for understanding broader Haitian immigration processes and the recontextualized identities of displaced Haitians in transit and upon arrival in new territories.

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Situational Identity and The Materiality of Illegal Immigration. Lori Lee. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437361)

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

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PaperId(s): SYM-80,04