Objects in Motion: The Materiality of Irish Emigration in the 19th Century World

Author(s): Nicholas Ames

Year: 2018


When departing one’s home, how does an emigrant decide what to bring? In arriving at a destination, in what ways does an emigrant (re)construct their understanding of place? This paper addresses the question of materiality in emigration by investigating the objects surrounding the act departure, and (re)structuring of one’s life in emigration. I focus on three facets of the material expression of emigration: the things they bring, the worlds they build, and the resulting influences they have ‘back home.’ Using the prism of local and regional experiences, I demonstrate how these acts of object-movement reflect wider narratives of national and international affect. Namely, how those emigrated objects reflect perceived values within a country; how the materiality of public and private spheres displays multifaceted identities and engagement with particular (and often overlapping) communities; and the ways in which emigrants shape, through remittances, letters, and return, the narratives of expectation and acts of consumption practiced ‘back home.’ By looking at the ways in which networks and social identities are expressed in the materiality of emigrant’s lives, I aim to engage with the complex narratives of trans-locational experiences, and the act of movement, from an archaeological lens.

Cite this Record

Objects in Motion: The Materiality of Irish Emigration in the 19th Century World. Nicholas Ames. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445087)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Historic Migration Other

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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21801