Author Archives: johnloewenthal

Dismantling a Bedroom of Youth

How Space and Material Culture Mediate the Life Course

photo by author. do not use without permission.

I am currently conducting anthropological fieldwork in New York City, studying young adults at the end of higher education as they consider their options for the future. The project is longitudinal, asking how youth culture changes through the transitions between university and work. Shortly before my departure, however, I had to let go of the bedroom in London (in the pictures) which I had called home between the ages of five and twenty-five. “Letting go” involved an unpleasant practical process of packing the walls and objects into boxes, as well as a more tacit, ongoing process of separation. With the research themes in mind, I reflect here on the meanings involved in constructing, adapting, and eventually dismantling the room across two decades. The example is used to demonstrate how space and material culture can serve to symbolically construct experiences of age and more implicitly, shape outlooks on the future. This is an argument that could be expanded to a range of contexts across the life course. Ekerdt et. al. 2004 on disbandment in later life].

the room also served as a site to reconfigure selected aspects of the past into an emergent adult identity

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