A miniature English cottage, a doll’s dress made of paper and a ‘Game Boy’: what could these objects have in common? All are toys that belonged to children who had moved to a new country, and all have been displayed in exhibitions of migration history. From unaccompanied child migrants, to refugee arrivals and children living in immigration detention, these toys and other children’s things are often windows onto controversial topics that allow visitors to imagine themselves in someone else’s smaller shoes. But what do they tell us about children’s differing experiences of migration, and the roles that possessions such as toys play in the remembering and retelling of those experiences? This article draws on examples from three decades of exhibitions in Australia to examine how, and why, children’s toys and the memories associated with them have been an important way of engaging audiences in historic and contemporary experiences of migration.
- oral history