Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Articles / Articles

Vol. 96 (2023): Material Culture Review

The The Material Culture of Exiled Families Housed in Hotels: Tensions between Settling in and Instability : Entre installation et instabilité

April 11, 2022


This article combines the topics of material culture, poverty and migration. It describes the material culture of families exiled in France who are illegal immigrants, living without resources and without independent accommodation. They are put up in budget hotel rooms by social services, often staying for several years. How do these families of three or four live in their hotel room? What objects do they surround themselves with? What does the accumulation of objects mean to these families? What are their spatial practices with these objects?

The lot in life of these illegal migrants is to wait – they have been waiting for several years for their situation to be regularized, which would mean being able to get a job, job training, economic resources and independent accommodation. This article starts with the objects of migration so as to arrive at an understanding of the conditions of these subjects in exile.

It describes the domestic arrangements and daily gestures that this accommodation renders difficult. In particular, it addresses the dual problem for these families exiled in France of storage and clutter – an important aspect of material cultures. By analysing storage spaces, I will show how families constitute for themselves a material culture of habitation as they await their official status.