Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Home, Materiality, Memory and Belonging: keeping culture

Why do mantelpieces matter? As everyday 'focal points', they offer a unique way into understanding how what matters relates to who matters.

Wide-ranging, original, innovative research assembles Mass Observation Archive material with historiographies of family, house and nation from ancient Greece to present-day Europe, China and America. Entwined with insightful ethnography of British domestic and heritage practices, these studies elicit how power works in the small spaces of home. Accompanied by films made with asylum seekers and participants' 'photo-calendars', it is an engaging, effective fusion of different modes of analysis, with imaginative theorising and auto-biographical reflection.

This cutting-edge contribution to current debates on identity unfolds how dominant cultural values not only exclude the dispossessed, but also limit possibilities for future networks of shared hope, loss and vulnerability.


Buy the book/download free sample:


Website photo-gallery (password-protected – please email for Access)


Radio interviews about the study:


Film series Making Wales, Remembering Home:


Useful Links:

Armitage ‘About his person’.  [In  Kid:  Copyright Faber and Faber 1992]


Austen:  Pride and Prejudice.


Beecher & Beecher Stowe: The American woman’s home.


Bede: Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum.


Clapham et al.: Housing Options and Solutions for young people in 2020.


Crain: ‘Surveillance Society: Mass Observation and the meaning of everyday life’. 


Doar: ‘Reconciling Tourism and Conservation: the Case of Historic Towns’.


Future Homes Commission: The Way We Live Now.


Garfield: ‘We are at War: about the book’:


Geffrye Museum website.


Global Voices:


Harrison: ‘Descriptions of Britain and England’ [in Holinshed’s Chronicles].


House of Commons Library: ‘The Right to Buy’ [and later social housing archive papers].


Hurdley (2006) ‘Dismantling Mantelpieces: narrating identities and materialising culture in the home’.



Hurdley (2007) ‘Objecting Relations: the problem of the gift’.


Hurdley (2007a) ‘Focal Points: framing material culture and visual data’.


Hurdley (2010) ‘In the Picture or Off the Wall?: ethical regulation, research habitus and unpeopled ethnography’.



Hurdley & Dicks: ‘In-between practice: working in the “thirdspace” of sensory and multimodal methodology’.


Law (2003): ‘Making a Mess with Method’.


Lladró factory website.


Mass Observation websit.


McVeigh: ‘30 years on, the right-to-buy revolution that still divides Britain’s housing estates’.


Office for National Statistics [ONS]: ‘Family Spending, 2011 Edition’:


Peabody Essex Museum website [site of Yin Yu Tang House].


Peck: Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities:



Rumford: ‘Of Chimney fire-places: Essay IV’.


Savage (2007): ‘Changing Social Class Identities in Post-War Britain: Perspectives from Mass-Observation’. [may be necessary to cut and paste in web browser]



St Fagans: St Fagans National History Museum, Wales/Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru website:




Vickery: ‘An  Englishman’s Home Is His Castle? Thresholds, Boundaries and Privacies in the 18th century London House’.


Whitman: Leaves of Grass.: