Lexian Hu

"Oral Histories: Reconstructing Home"

Section MS1, Kamil Dalkir

Keywords: architecture, archival practice, identity, model-making, moving image

The first land policies of the People Republic of China were launched in 1988. These policies were to improve land-use efficiency, to rationalise land allocation, to enhance land management, and to coordinate urban and rural development. The land-use right could be traded however, allowing people to move to the city, and from collective dormitories to detached houses.

China's land policies reformed rapidly and reflected on development in social and economical aspects. Nevertheless, the remnant of the old days still narrates some nostalgic memories held by my family. This project focuses on the former house of my grandmother, built in 1948, to look at my familial relationship to social transformation in China. The house had previously belonged to rural collectivities after the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949 and was then occupied by my family until the late 1980s. To some extent, the house is a bearer of collective memories and histories, especially that of my family.

My research begins with discussions with my family members and neighbours to compile information on elements and objects within the house. By capturing the facts and stories through oral communication, I started to document my living relatives’ memories—of their own family experiences as well as the stories passed down to them. Collective family memories are inherited through oral histories and compiling these stories makes claims for a past that has not yet been told.