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Distancing material effects to reconcile loss: Sorting memories and emotion in self-storage

Owen, Jennifer 2021. Distancing material effects to reconcile loss: Sorting memories and emotion in self-storage. Emotion, Space and Society 38 , 100748. 10.1016/j.emospa.2020.100748
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This paper draws upon research undertaken to understand the role of self-storage in the lives and losses of those who use it. For many renting self-storage is a temporary solution at a time of stress and/or transformation in their lives, including family bereavement. This paper will demonstrate how self-storage affects practices of mourning and remembrance, in particular by distancing and delaying engagement with memories and emotions during the process of divesting the effects of the deceased. In a similar way to avoiding places because of their associations with lost loved ones (Maddrell, 2016), self-storage acts as a space to safely store triggering possessions away from the place/moment/relations of bereavement. This paper shows how putting evocative objects in storage spaces out of sight and out of mind allows them to be re-encountered in a new context, often at a later date and under less desperate terms. Spatial, emotional and temporal distance acts to change the relationship felt towards objects and can make their sorting, passing on and disposal easier. By drawing on the experiences of six self-storage users, this paper argues that the self-storage unit is a place of reconciliation: a space to mourn, remember, and eventually move on.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1755-4586
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 November 2020
Date of Acceptance: 28 October 2020
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2020 18:03

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