Gardens, migrations, and memories
Aesthetic and intercultural learning and the (re)construction of identity
in Art and migration
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This chapter examines how Japanese-style gardens can provide places for learning about aesthetics and transculturalism, and for maintaining constructs of cultural identity. It argues that gardens offer sites where visitors can enjoy aesthetically rich somatic experiences while learning about intercultural histories. As lieux de mémoire, sites of memory, gardens can sustain traces of the past that continue to condition appreciations of the present. This project has developed through a triangulation between two initial research interests, in aesthetic learning, and in learning in cultural institutions, and in the poignant contexts of immigration, alienation, and dispossession of Nikkei Japanese American communities during the twentieth century. The study enhances appreciations of how aesthetic experiences in garden settings can offer insights into the conventions and practices of other cultures, and mediate the sensory, socio-cultural, ethical, and cognitive fabric through which communities crystallise some sense of identity. In exploring the narratives of Japanese and Japanese American citizens in Oregon, this research clarifies how gardens can inform processes of re-conceptualising notions of identity and belonging. It finds, in the spatio-temporal experiences of movements and transitions, borders and passages, of these Japanese-style gardens, metaphors for migrations and intercultural encounters, and media informing the reconstruction and repositioning of cultural identities.

Art and migration

Revisioning the borders of community

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