Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Peter Donnelly




This research uses the situation of immigration to illustrate the meaning of material possessions at times of life transition. Recent Eastern European immigrants were asked about the objects they brought with them, what they left behind, and the importance of these possessions. The analysis focused on the type and value of the objects, the loss felt from leaving possessions, these objects were a social and and the ways in which cultural resource. The possessions that immigrants selected were important because they represented significant life experiences. The value of these objects were expressed in terms of three categories of experiences: existential, social, and cultural. The predominant type of possession were collections of 'cultural objects'. Immigrants also brought memorabilia emboding memories of past experiences. The objects immigrants brought were a means of re-constructing a self-identity in accordance to their new status as an immigrant in Canada. Possessions were a also social resource, connecting immigrants to significant others in Eastern Europe. The permanence of the material possessions also enabled immigrants to import, maintain, and pass on objects that represented and contained a family or cultural heritage.

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