“Why do expatriates keep certain objects while leaving others behind in the process of moving from their home country to London?”

We all keep certain things for no apparent reason, some are used on a daily basis, some stashed away in a box or adorning a windowsill. But why do we hold on to them? ‘Things We Keep – Curators of our own history’, a Culture at King’s College London project in collaboration with the Department of European & International Studies, German Historical Institute London and artist Rolf Sachs, curates objects that were kept when people moved from Germany to London.

Expatriates face difficult decisions about what to take when moving abroad, a selection process that heightens the significance of the objects they decide to keep. Together with the participants the research team explores the narratives behind these things. Through the selection of their object and oral history interviews the expats are involved in a conversation between personal experience, history and academia. They also enter the debate over which things are worthy of preservation and exhibition in a museum. Sidestepping economic and cultural value, this approach is interested in the emotional dimension of the materiality of everyday life. The objects and their stories will be on display at the German Historical Institute London from 10 September until 5 November 2015, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London. Admission is free.

The Cultural Institute at King’s College London connects the university with practitioners, producers, policy makers and participants across arts and culture, creating space where conventions are challenged and original perspectives emerge. Through its programmes and activities, the Cultural Institute aims to put academic research to work in the cultural sector, enhance the student experience, inspire new approaches to teaching, research and learning and increase public engagement with the work of King’s. The Cultural Institute is a flagship initiative for Culture at King’s.

kcl.ac.uk/culturalinstitute @CultInstKings

The German Historical Institute London (GHIL) promotes independent research on British history, the history of the Empire and Commonwealth, and Anglo-German relations. It facilitates communication between German and British historians through its publications, research grants and its programme of conferences, workshops and public lectures. Its public library specialises in German history. The institute is part of the Max Weber Foundation — German Humanities Institutes Abroad.