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The big yellow sanctuary: new ways of thinking about self-storage in the United Kingdom

Owen, Jennifer 2017. The big yellow sanctuary: new ways of thinking about self-storage in the United Kingdom. Presented at: RGS with IBG Annual International Conference 2017, London, 30 August- 1 September 2017.

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Self-storage as a phenomenon has grown dramatically over the last decade, and many view it as a safe space to store their personal possessions temporarily. Safe storage thus generally refers to the functional security of material objects, however this paper argues that it also offers sanctuary for selves and practices. ‘Self’ storage can become a permanent sanctuary to allow the safe storage, and expression, of alternative forms of identity. In a similar way to storing material possessions that no longer ‘fit’ with domestic and residential spaces, self-storage units act as a space to safely store and conserve the material aspects of the self which are also ‘out of place’ in the user’s domestic life. The distancing of the self-storage unit and its contents, both physically and mentally, from domestic space enables the user to create a spatial division of identity and express other aspects of their multiple identity. By drawing on a range of examples, including the use of storage as a place for cross-dressing and transvestite expression, this paper argues that the self-storage unit is a place of transformation, a sanctuary in which to be or become somebody else.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Additional Information: Session: Geographies of Safe Space (1): Spaces of embodiment, identity and education
Funders: ESRC
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:02

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