'How much these walls have seen': the role of architecture, place and memory in re-constructing the sense of self-identity in a new built environment
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Whilst migration and continuous movements of individuals and groups are well-documented phenomena, it is the intensity of these that has in recent times generated increased curiosity and also to some extent, controversy. The issues of migrant settlement, fitting in, belonging and identity have been approached from many perspectives and have drawn the attention of many disciplines across politics and economics, to social sciences and human geography. Yet the questions regarding the role of architecture and greater built environment in respect to formation of migrants' sense of self-identity, as explored from an architectural perspective, have only recently emerged. Arguably, architecture, together with built environment, provides a framework; a stage on which our daily activities evolve, a stage on which experiences are encountered and memories of these constructed. And it is these frameworks of place, architecture and memory, which migrants unintentionally carry with them to any new built environment that are potentially hindering or assisting the settling in process. Taking into account that a significant number of people residing in Australia today were born and lived in conditions and built environments substantially different to those found in Australia, it appears reasonable to ask ourselves what role place, architecture and memories play in the process of constructing and re-constructing new identities in diaspora. To date, not much attention has been paid to the specific relationships that exist between identity, memory, migrants and architecture. By drawing from theories by Martin Heidegger, Pierre Bourdieu, Maurice Halbwachs, Michele de Certeau and Judith Butler, amongst others, this paper will explore these potential relationships and the way they are played out in the construction of the sense of self-identity in a new built environment.
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