Academy award winning illustrator Shaun Tan’s 2006 graphic novel The Arrival, poignantly tells the story of the typical immigrant experience through a series of beautifully rendered, sepia toned images. Tan’s illustrations provide us the perspective of the immigrant to whom the new city appears strange, alienating and even fantastical. Throughout the novel, Tan depicts a number of objects- some are familiar, iconic images of iteration such as a suitcase and a family photo, while others are the strange and alienating objects the man encounters in the new country. Using theories that bring together material culture and identity formation, this paper posits that Tan presents his narrative of the immigrant experience as a project of familiarization and naturalization, of home making and the creation of a comfortable “well-fitted habitus.” Domesticating and familiarizing himself with the alien objects he encounters and furnishing his home with these objects alongside the familiar ones from home, allows the protagonist to construct his immigrant being within the space of the host nation. Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis.
CitationBanerjee, B. (2016). Creating a ‘well-fitted habitus’: Material culture, homemaking and diasporic belonging in Shaun Tan’s the arrival. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 7(1), 53-69. doi: 10.1080/21504857.2015.1134610
- Shaun Tan
- The Arrival
- Material culture
- Immigrant identity