In search of material practices : the nineteenth-century European domestic interior rehabilitated
Faculty of Arts. History
History of retailing & consumption. - Abingdon
, p. 1-16
University of Antwerp
The influential notion of domesticity has been one of the key features in historical studies on nineteenth-century domestic life. Yet surprisingly little is known about the everyday material and spatial practices that created this domesticity. By looking into the study of the nineteenth-century home and domesticity, primarily in Western European historiography, I will argue that it deals largely with the home as an ideal rather than as a reality that was actually lived and experienced. Hence, I believe there are still significant blind spots in our knowledge, which I will discuss in the first part of the article. I argue that current approaches to the nineteenth-century home, however appealing, are largely insufficient to capture the plurality and fluidity of everyday material and spatial practices in which domesticity took form. In the second part, I hope to suggest an alternative way to overcome these problems, by linking up with recent trends in consumer studies, and to broaden our view to include the wider European context in the story.