Everyday objects as mediators of self: a material culture study of work, home and community in the pulp and paper town of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador

Burns, Jane (2007) Everyday objects as mediators of self: a material culture study of work, home and community in the pulp and paper town of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This thesis is a material culture study that examines how people in the pulp and paper town of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador, use objects to mediate a sense of self against the dominance of an outside industry. Within the context of work, home, and community, this study looks at how residents use everyday objects - a lunch basket, newsprint from the mill, a kettle made from mill materials, or a paper hat worn in a Labour Day parade - to manage this relationship with the outside, the foreign, the imposed and to mediate a sense of themselves as individuals and as industrial workers. The primary artifact this thesis examines is the mill worker's lunch basket - a locally made splint-style basket - analyzing the basket as craft, symbolic object and appropriated object. The basket plays a key role in how residents manage their relationships: at the mill, workers use the basket as a rite of passage to gain entry to the mill and the meals the basket contains create sociability among workers; at home the basket both links and separates worlds constructed as private (home) and public (industrial work); and within the community, workers use the baskets to create an aura of mystery - not only of the basket itself and of the worker who carries it - but of the secrecy and restriction of the mill itself. This study also suggests that the artifacts themselves, whether they be woven like the baskets or temporary like the paper hats marchers wear in parades, echo the states in which they are used: the weave of the basket reflects the weave of the bond among workers, the temporary quality of the artifacts used in the parade represents the temporary opportunity to confront the industry. By looking at the same objects in different contexts, this thesis concludes that the residents of this former company town use objects to challenge assumptions held about industrial workers, including their own assumptions that they are passive, and finds that they are active creators of their own identities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6675
Item ID: 6675
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 317-332).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 2007
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Grand Falls-Windsor
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Material culture--Newfoundland and Labrador--Grand Falls-Windsor; Lunchboxes--Newfoundland and Labrador--Grand Falls-Windsor; Wood-pulp industry workers--Newfoundland and Labrador--Grand Falls-Windsor

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