Paper Title

Insiders and Outsiders in East Hancock: Finnish Domestic Workers in a Copper Country Suburb

Location

Fisher 127

Event Website

http://www.finnforumx.com/

Start Date

12-4-2014 9:30 AM

End Date

12-4-2014 10:00 AM

Description

This paper traces the boundaries between overlapping social landscapes in East Hancock, an upper middle class neighborhood platted in the 1890s at the height of successful copper mining on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Planned as an extension to the town of Hancock proper, this district situated its residents in positions of power by locating them prominently on the landscape and offering houses whose floor-plans and interiors compounded social hierarchies. While East Hancock offered male immigrant mineworkers almost no point of entry, physical or emotional, female domestic workers who did enter these homes as employees created alternate social landscapes for themselves. The focus of this paper is the young Finnish “servants” who entered their employers’ houses through a network of side and rear doors, and filled the laundry rooms, back staircases, and basements with Finnish language and objects to evoke familiar traditions. This case study combines the work of architectural historians and geographers who interpret the multiple meanings of social landscapes with the advancements made by historians in reading household objects as sites of human agency and self-image-making.

Presenter Bio

Fayen Scarlett studies the spatial, material, and visual aspects of historic domestic landscapes. Currently a PhD candidate in the Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures program in the University of Wisconsin—Madison’s Art History department, her interests focus on the spatiality of social power, placemaking within houses and neighborhoods, and issues of scale in the experience of landscapes vs. objects. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and an M.A. from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the University of Delaware.

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Apr 12th, 9:30 AM Apr 12th, 10:00 AM

Insiders and Outsiders in East Hancock: Finnish Domestic Workers in a Copper Country Suburb

Fisher 127

This paper traces the boundaries between overlapping social landscapes in East Hancock, an upper middle class neighborhood platted in the 1890s at the height of successful copper mining on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Planned as an extension to the town of Hancock proper, this district situated its residents in positions of power by locating them prominently on the landscape and offering houses whose floor-plans and interiors compounded social hierarchies. While East Hancock offered male immigrant mineworkers almost no point of entry, physical or emotional, female domestic workers who did enter these homes as employees created alternate social landscapes for themselves. The focus of this paper is the young Finnish “servants” who entered their employers’ houses through a network of side and rear doors, and filled the laundry rooms, back staircases, and basements with Finnish language and objects to evoke familiar traditions. This case study combines the work of architectural historians and geographers who interpret the multiple meanings of social landscapes with the advancements made by historians in reading household objects as sites of human agency and self-image-making.

http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/copperstrikesymposium/Schedule/Saturday/50