Deakin University
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Resisting assimilation : the mild aesthetics and wild perceptions of the migrant house

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conference contribution
posted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by Mirjana LozanovskaMirjana Lozanovska
The physical adaptation, remaking and maintenance, or building of the house plays a significant role in immigrants’ sense of belonging to a community, especially in contexts of first generation elderly immigrants with minimal English language skills. Psychoanalytic theories propose that objects are integral to a subject’s identity, but that the path of effect between the subject and object is not causal or direct, rather it goes via the unconscious. This paper seeks to examine the relationship between immigrants and their houses through these theories adapting them to an analysis of the houses. It draws its data from field research of three elderly immigrant households. The iconography of the house has always been perceived as central to the analysis of dreams, here the thesis is that the house is the most significant object of the immigrant because it mediates the many worlds inherent to the migrant’s imaginary landscapes. The analysis will seek to understand this role of the house.

Secondly, while many houses in which migrants live can barely be differentiated in clear physical ways from the typology of houses built in Australia, the perception that they are different is a strong myth. At the least it has resulted in very little, if any, study of this vernacular of new Australian houses. It would be easy to argue that to build a house in Australia is the most important mode of assimilation because a way of life is intrinsically set by this suburban paradigm. But for the reason of this perception of difference I will explore an idea about ethnic aesthetics as a mode of resisting assimilation. In writing on taste in his seminal book, Distinction, the sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, has argued that taste is a way of classifying people into classes, race, culture, but it is also a way for dominant and ruling classes to resist challenges from other parties, and maintain a particular hierarchy of society. In this case those other parties are ethnic communities in Australia whose tastes are not always the same as that of the dominant Anglo-Celtic community.



SAHANZ Conference (25th : 2008 : Geelong, Vic.)


1 - 20


Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand


Geelong, Australia

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[Geelong, Vic.]

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E1 Full written paper - refereed

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2008, SAHANZ


D Beynon, U de Jong

Title of proceedings

SAHANZ 2008 : History in practice : 25th International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand

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