Materialising memory at Angel Island Immigration Station, San Francisco

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Abstract

This paper presents an object-centred account of the politics of memory at a National Historic Landmark: Angel Island Immigration Station, San Francisco. Once a port of entry and detention for Chinese immigrants arriving in the United States, the Immigration Station exists today as a historic site managed by California State Parks who are in the midst of implementing a new interpretive programme with a mission to: ‘turn a history of exclusion into a future of inclusion’. The discussion fixes on three objects located within the park which play an important role in the representation of the site’s past despite being labelled as ‘noncontributing’ in the site’s National Historic Landmark’s nomination. The biographies of a bronze bell, a granite monument, and a group of wax mannequins as sketched out here suggest novel ways to be sensitive to the many and often unexpected contributions brought by the materiality of an object in practices of remembrance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-455
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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