Moving the Material Me: A Visual Autoethnography

Elizabeth Payne


This visual autoethnography aims to understand how the significant event of moving house forces us to consider the materiality of our lives and the intimate relationships we have with our belongings. Situated at the intersection of anthropological studies on the home and materiality, this study looks at the ways these fields interact to reveal new conceptions of responsibility over the social life of things. Using autoethnographic methods, this research is embedded in my personal embodied experience of moving house, with particular emphasis on the sensory and subjective elements of this process, as highlighted through photographs and descriptive vignettes. This study delves into the decisions behind whether we keep, throw away, or pass on our things, interwoven with discussions around our moral obligations to the material lifeworlds of our stuff. It explores how our possessions reflect our relationships, our heritage, and ourselves.


material culture; moving house; home; decluttering; visual ethnography; sensory ethnography

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The JUE is a peer-reviewed online journal that publishes original ethnographic research by undergraduates working in a variety of disciplines. Submissions are welcomed. Contact the Editor, Karen McGarry.

ISSN 2369-8721