C4


Travel memories/memories travel 
Convenor:
Julia Harrison (Trent University)
Stream:
Series C: Identity, memory, imagination
Location:
TM144
Start time:
12 April, 2007 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

Papers will examine the role of memory in the touristic experience and how these memories themselves metaphorically 'travel' to different places as they are remembered. The panel is intended to further develop the discussion of memory in anthropology.

Long Abstract

Much writing on memory in anthropology is centred on the traumatic, the implicitly negative. Where in this discussion are memories of the positive, the ecstatic, the 'peak' experiences? It is these moments that some would say most frequently occur while away from home. Memories of such things are what those who study the touristic experience consistently hear about. Little seems to be remembered of the negative, the disconcerting, the tedious that can be the 'other' side of the travel experience. To better understand the role of memory in the touristic experience and how these memories themselves metaphorically 'travel' to different places as they are remembered, papers are invited which address themes/questions such as: what role does memory play in shaping tourists' travel desires; what does the 'filtering' of memories about the touristic experience say about it; how are memories of visits to 'dark tourist attractions' (such as war memorials, battlefields, holocaust museums, 'shanty' towns) rendered 'positive'; in the post 9/11 world how are the ever increasing personal scrutiny and encumbrances of the actual journey 'remembered'; what role do memories of travel play in the ongoing relationship between travel companions; do memories of particular travel experiences change over time as tourists move through what has been called their 'travel careers'? From what are anticipated to be ethnographically rich papers, this panel is designed to develop more fully the discussion of memory in anthropology.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Petra Rethmann (McMaster University)

Paper long abstract:

The residence of Leo Trotzky in Coyoacan is perhaps the most immediate place that comes to mind when visiting Mexico City. Yet in almost every tourist guide I read it is mentioned as one of the more or less obligatory places to visit (mostly in tandem with the house of his former lover and artist Frida Kahlo). The residence in which one of socialist Russia's most famed revolutionaries spent the last four years of his life (1936-1940) commemorates not only the life of Trotzky as an important historical figur but also the promise of revolutionary hope and change, including its failure. In my talk I am interested in longings for a pst that generate nostalgia as both their affective and temporal condition. Rather than looking at nostalgia as an always already unfulfilled historical condition, I am more interested in what it tells us about the temporal dimensions of this now and its fulfilled and unfulfilled possibilities. The real and imagined tourist in this talk is a also a socialist history bufff for whom Trotzky's residence has become an intentional memorial for once grandiose, now dashed dreams. Working through the topography of Trotzky's former residence, now converted into a museum, I seek to unearth the mnemonic traces that produce both a nostalgia for the past while simultaneously acting as reminders of a desire for different historical futures.

Author:

Nadia Giguère (INRS - Urbanisation Culture Société)

Paper short abstract:

Through the cases of three travellers in India, we shall see how travel, as a transitional experience, offers the possibility to retell a life history. The traveling experience thus acts as a prism through which one revisits a personal history.

Paper long abstract:

Touristic experiences often mark a breach in daily life affecting travellers in various ways according to the nature of their traveling projects. Through the cases of three travellers in India, we shall see how travel, as a transitional experience, offers them the possibility to retell their life history. The traveling experience thus acts as a prism through which they revisit their personal history in a way that is coherent with what they had been through during their voyage. What they state as significant events in their life can be interpreted as echoing their strategies of travel.

Shanti, a Canadian woman whom I met in Rishikesh - a holy town boarding the Ganges - recalls her individual history interpreting all her life as a path guided by her guru, even though she did not know of him at that time. Sophie, a French lady whom I met in Calcutta, devotes an important part of her life to an organization assisting children living on the street. Her life before this encounter is perceived as a regrettable waste of time. Simon, a German citizen spending half of the year in Goa, sun tanning on the beaches of the Arabian sea, recalls his encounter with an Indian palm leaf reader. This meeting is remembered as a meaningful event, helping him to accept his nomadic life style.

Through these travellers' accounts, we can observe three different commemorative processes : 1) an explicative memory to make sense in hindsight of a spiritual travel experience; 2) a transforming memory to make sense of a humanitarian travel experience ; and 3) a justifying memory to make sense of a libertarian life style. These three processes attest to the outstanding nature of the traveling experience and the necessity to inscribe it a posteriori in a consistent life story.

Author:

Julia Harrison (Trent University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the cottage idyll and notions of Canadianness constructed in memories of 'second home tourists'. I also reflect on how familial tensions, feelings of isolation, and fears of the wilderness are screened in these memories, protecting idealized notions of Canadian identity.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on a series of interviews conducted with a group of 'second-home' tourists, or cottage owners in north-central Ontario, Canada. The cottagers I spoke with wanted me to understand that the 'real' cottage experience was encompassed in their memories of idyllic times spent as children, or as parents, usually mothers with their children, each summer at the cottage, a pattern repeated for many of these middle class Ontarians in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. For them, the telling of these memories was an authenticating discourse of a quintessential 'Canadian' experience. It called into question both understandings of what the cottage experience is today, and by extension, commented on the changing nature of the Canadian state. I offer in this paper some preliminary thoughts on the how the cottage idyll and notions of 'Canadianness' are constructed in these memories. I also reflect on how the not-so-idyllic familial tensions, feelings of isolation and confinement (particularly on the part of women), and real fears of the natural elements and wildlife are screened in these treasured memories, protecting at both a real and metaphorical level idealized notions of class, gender, and Canadian identity.