Furnishing the salon: symbolic ethnicity and performative practices in Moroccan-Dutch domestic interiors

H.C. Dibbits

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Confronted with traditional-looking Moroccan furniture in a house where Moroccan migrants or their descendants live, one may interpret this furniture as an ethnic symbol,underlining the Moroccan, North African or Arabic background of the owners. Analysing interviews and discussions on the Internet, this article shows that the furniture has many other significances as well. It not only functions as an ethnic symbol, but also signals affluence and fashionability, and it appeals in different, often emotional ways to the senses of those who experience the furniture by sitting on it while eating, drinking and talking. Apparently the traditional-looking Moroccan furniture has the capacity to transport people to other worlds. For those who spent their childhood in Morocco, these are often worlds that are part of their embodied memory, while for those who grew up outside Morocco, these are more often worlds that are primarily imagined and appropriated through aesthetic images in glossy magazines and coffee-table books. In both cases however, traditionallooking Moroccan furniture appear to respond to an emotional longing for the (re-)creation of experiences of conviviality. Especially in interviews with first-generation Moroccan migrants, this emotional longing resonates more strongly than the wish to make a statement about ethnic belonging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-557
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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