Belonging from afar: Nostalgia, time and memory

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Belonging is a fundamentally temporal experience that is anchored not only in place but also time, yet this dimension of belonging has so far remained under-researched. Based on an analysis of 25 British Mass Observation Project accounts I argue that a focus on the temporal location of belonging contributes to our knowledge about how memory is used to create a sense of belonging, and the consequences this has for the self. The paper is structured around two interrelated arguments. First, that the temporal location of belonging – either in the past or the present – has consequences for how time is experienced and how memory is utilized in creating a sense of belonging. Second, that nostalgic belonging from afar, of which three types are identified in the MOP accounts, should not be understood merely as a way of disengaging with the present. Past sources of belonging can endure in a virtual sense through the act of nurturing the connection in memories and can be used to ‘warm up’ and give vitality to the present. Thus this paper contributes to our understanding of how people can creatively use different forms of temporal belonging to create a sense of a continuous self.
Original languageEnglish
Journalsociological review
Early online date22 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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