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Gygi, Fabio (2019) 'Hôtes et otages : Entasser des objets chez soi dans le Japon contemporain.' L' Homme: revue française d'anthropologie, 231/2. pp. 151-172.

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Material culture studies often use a framework defined by appropriation, in which human actors can make circulating objects their own by investing them with meaning. But what happens when a present given to you cannot entirely become yours ? This article looks at object-human relations in Japan through the lens of hospitality, in order to grasp the dynamic tension between active accommodation and passive exposure to the presence of objects in domestic spaces. Three ethnographic vignettes on contentious relationships with stuffed animals, dolls, and clutter illustrate the need to rethink such relationships in terms of stewardship rather than ownership. In the first vignette, stuffed animals come to replace the students of a teacher of Japanese dance ; in the second, dolls who outlive their owners become uncanny presences that can only be gotten rid of through doll funerals. Finally, in the case of clutter, domestic sociality with human others is completely eclipsed by « being-with » things. Rather than to interpret this as « things becoming social others » (as it is sometimes put in psychological literature), I will argue that the hoarding of clutter in Japan can be understood as extinguishing the person-part of the thing, as a means to return it to untampered « thinghood ». Hospitality thus is granted to another form of alterity, the autonomous quietness of things. While human and divine guests become more or less controllable or at least better known entities through hosting, the opposite happens when things are being hosted. As many informants reported, cut from shared meaning and circulation, things become increasingly « stranger » over time.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
ISSN: 04394216
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2020 09:31

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