The role of possessions in adaptation to a new life

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Possessions provide valuable insights on how people present themselves and identify their membership in society. In migration, when people uproot their lives and adapt to another country, material objects from the place of their origin are likely to be especially meaningful and play a critical role in the understanding of immigrant identity. The aim of this study is to examine the effect of a new culture on the life of immigrants by comparing possessions that people take with them to Australia with that remain in their households years later. The focus is on immigrants who moved to Australia from Russia and Ukraine from the corresponding republics of the Soviet Union from 1980 to 2019. This study utilized qualitative research method. Questionnaires were the primary means for collecting data. Participants were recruited through snowball sampling. The data collection process also included the examination of online articles, blogs and forums where people suggest to each other what to bring to Australia.

The following categories of possession symbolism were examined in the study: possessions that have (1) material, (2) personal and sentimental, as well as (3) ethnic meanings. Migration is linked to cultural, economic and personal changes and, therefore, in many cases it involves the revaluation of possessions and their functions. It was demonstrated that possessions often change their meanings: they can lose their material or personal significances and change their meanings from material to sentimental or ethnical.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaterial culture of the Russian-speaking Diaspora
Subtitle of host publicationthe semiotics of home
PublisherThe University of Edinburgh Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Australia
  • Russian-speaking immigrants
  • material possessions of immigrants
  • transportation of personal belongings
  • Russian vs. foreign medicaments
  • dear objects


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