SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - 31

the second mezuzah, the fact that there are two
shows that the home is a " physical manifestation
of their interpretation " of the tenants' relationship
with their religion. This leads back to the idea of
spatial ownership. If people remove all evidence that
someone lived in the same space before the next
tenant, then the tenant has an easier time developing
ownership and a sense of " home. "
The time between residents in temporary spaces can
vary from a few days to a couple of months or longer.
Turner addresses the passage of time in temporary
spaces, stating that " ephemerality humanizes time
by referring us to the exigencies of our mortality.
Defined by the present, it only exists in the present
moment and its performative tense " (2009). This
is a morbid way to frame temporary living spaces
but Turner challenges how we view ownership. Yes,
the resident is responsible for the living spaces for
the duration of their lease, but once the lease has
expired, the ownership is gone. Creating a sense
of " home " through material and social means is a
performative act, though is also valid at the same
time, providing folklorists with a complex view of
temporary living spaces.
FIELDNOTES AND OBSERVATION ANALYSIS
In my previous field notes and observation analysis,
students seemed to focus on aesthetics when
decorating their rooms. Hanging items on the walls
is the most common pattern in my study. I analyzed
the pictures submitted to a Google Form I sent out
to various mass messaging communities I am part
of, noting that I received submissions from people
that I am close to or know a good deal. The lack of
unfamiliar subjects was disappointing but knowing
the majority of the participants made studying their
rooms easier since I knew about their lives outside of
what they disclosed in the form. Since I am friends
with the majority of the participants, we discussed
how their lives have changed since we last saw
each other, providing me with further insight to
contextualize the functional and aesthetic purposes
of their rooms.
Many walls were decorated with posters, pictures,
and art that were related to music, and nature, or
depicted their friends and family. These items in
a prominent place in the room suggest that they
are important to the resident. The d├ęcor acts as a
physical proclamation of their morals and beliefs.
Depending on the depictions, I was able to figure
out what type of social group participants were
involved in. For example, one participant had a wall
covered in paintings with their sorority's Greek letters
prominently featured.
String or strip lights were also very popular in the
pictures. In my interview with Tyler, a good friend
of mine, he talked about having a tertiary light
source besides the overhead lights and natural light
from the large window in his room. Having a light
source he could control allowed him to influence
the atmosphere in the room to fit his mood. He calls
it " vibey lighting, " defining " vibey " as something
that makes him feel comfortable. Comfortability is
also why Tyler has several plants in his room since he
enjoys being surrounded by nature.
Other people hang strip lights that change colors so
they can use them to express their emotions. This was
a practice made popular by the social media app, Tik
Tok. Having these lights is a staple of content creators
on Tik Tok. If people have these lights, then it can be
assumed they create content as well and are part of
the Tik Tok community as more than just a consumer.
However, they may have these lights for aesthetic
purposes, reaffirming that lighting plays a large role
in comfort in temporary spaces.
My concept of temporary spaces was changed when
I considered the role of the COVID-19 pandemic in
housing decisions. Students who did not need to
come to campus nor wanted to return to Chapel Hill
were able to stay home and complete the semester
virtually. Students usually live on campus when
classes are in-person so that means their current
living situation is temporary. Most students lived
with their parents and had to adapt their daily rituals
to fit in the context of their hometown and family
expectations. This comes in the form of designating
areas of their room or house as " study spaces " to
separate work from pleasure.
I noticed this was a trend within the participants that
were in the Chapel Hill area, as well. Tyler spoke
31

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Contents
SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - 1
SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - Contents
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2021fall
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2020holiday
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2018fall
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/50thanniversary
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2013fall
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2013winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2012fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2012summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2012winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/spring2011
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