Title page for ETD etd-07072011-174745

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hanks, Gentry Powell
Author's Email Address gentryhanks@gmail.com
URN etd-07072011-174745
Title "We Live in a Used World:" Cultural Geographies of American Garage Sales
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Geography & Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
DeLyser, Dydia Committee Chair
Coats, Lauren Committee Member
Regis, Helen A. Committee Member
  • storytelling
  • divestment
  • stuff
  • geographies of home
  • archives on the margins
  • mental mapping
  • liminal space
Date of Defense 2011-05-17
Availability unrestricted
This thesis seeks to understand the emotional geographies of American garage sales, which I argue are liminal. Through a methodology of narrative surveys (open-ended questionnaires), mental maps, participant-observation, and interviews, I make the case that garage sales, through absent and/or present items, narratives, and exchanged histories, can reveal much in terms of identity, values, and cultural practices. These archives on the margins hold stories, artifacts, and performances of a distant or near past, giving geographers an innovative lens through which to explore the intricacies of materiality, place, and representation. This thesis provides a range of theoretical and practical perspectives on how geographers conceptualize and utilize the archive; I expand on their understandings to include garage sales— ephemeral sites that inhabit a space not quite purposefully preserved and not yet necessarily in decay. Through questioning conventional understandings of the traditional archive, space for an alternative archive—including everydayness, the revelation of cultural and historical clues via consumed, retained, and divested ‘things’, access, context, performance, and narrative—becomes possible.

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