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20 May 2015

#ThingsWeKeep - German expats needed

A new modern archaeology project, 'Things We Keep – curators of our own history', is curating objects that German expats have brought from home



When you move abroad, how do you decide what to bring and what to leave? Have you transplanted your old home in your new country, from furniture to foodstuffs? Or are your mementos smaller - a fridge magnet that works as a bottle opener, a beach towel past its best, a plastic coffee filter?

Modern archaeology project

A new modern archaeology project, ‘Things We Keep – curators of our own history’, is curating objects that German expats have brought from home to find out what motivates these decisions, and what the items mean to them. Launched by Dr Katrin Schreiter and the Departments of German and European & International Studies at King’s College London in collaboration with the German Historical Institute London (GHIL), research partner Dr Tobias Becker and artist Rolf Sachs, Things We Keep will culminate in an exhibition in London and an interactive website.

How the project came about

Project leader Dr Katrin Schreiter began her studies in Berlin, emigrated to the US to study and later teach before joining King’s and making the move to London in 2013. “The idea for Things We Keep came from my own relocations across the globe. I found myself throwing many perfectly useful and functional things in the bin or giving them away, knowing that buying them new would be cheaper than shipping them abroad. Nevertheless, there were some things that I could just not part from. Having researched modern material culture for many years, I believe that the things we consciously choose to keep can tell much about who we are and where we came from in today’s throwaway society,” she said.

From the mundane to the meaningful

“These things could be ordinary everyday objects – such as a cup, a first communion bible or, in my case, a plastic coffee filter holder. What is important is that they tell a story. The time commitment is small, but your thing and your story could end up in the Things We Keep exhibition and you will be invited to the launch event at the GHIL in the autumn.”

Thank you to the funders

The project is funded by the Department of European & International Studies, the Department of German, King’s Cultural Institute through the Collaborative Innovation Scheme for Early Career Researchers, and the GHIL.

How to participate

For more information please visit the project website or email


(Aug 2022 - The Department of German now the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures).

In this story

Katrin Schreiter

Senior Lecturer in German and History