A shoe, a broken watch and marbles

How objects shape our memory and our future


  • Lea David School of Sociology University College, Dublin




objects, mass atrocities, human-object relations, memory politics, sociology of emotions


The desire objects, i.e., personal items of the missing or killed found on the site of mass atrocities, are often understood as the last tangible link with the absent person. In this paper I try to conceptualise what is happening in this human-object relationship and how those relationships are shaped when desire objects move through different social circuits. I demonstrate how the emotional energy charge changes with their transitions from one circuit to another which consequently leads to the alteration of the perceived value of desire objects’. Using the biography and the ascribed agency of desire objects, I trace how human-object relations shape political action.

Author Biography

Lea David, School of Sociology University College, Dublin

Lea David is an Assistant Professor at the School of Sociology, University College Dublin. Her research interests cover memory, nationalism, human rights, the intersection between the Holocaust and genocide, and conflicts in the former Yugoslav countries and in Israel/Palestine. Previously, David held several postdoctoral fellowships including the Fulbright and the Mare Curie. She has published in English, Hebrew, and Serbo-Croatian. Her book The Past Can’t Heal Us: The Dangers of Mandating Memory in the Name of Human Rights was published in 2020 with Cambridge University Press and was awarded the Honourable Mention for the 2021 ASA Sociology of Human Rights Gordon Hirabayashi Award.




How to Cite

David, Lea. 2022. “A Shoe, a Broken Watch and Marbles: How Objects Shape Our Memory and Our Future”. S: I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation. 9 (2):90-114. https://doi.org/10.23777/sn.0222/swl_ldav01.