Accepted Paper:

Collecting souvenirs, collecting tourists scientists, tourists and travel objects of the Canary Islands  

Authors:

Fernando Estevez (University of La Laguna)
Mayte Henríquez (Museo de Historia y Antropología de Tenerife)

Paper short abstract:

Analysing materials from the Canary Islands we argue that the artifacts and specimens collected in the expeditions and the tourists souvenirs acquired by the tourists share narratives of exotization and cultural appropriation. They are in a same continuum of travel objects as souvenirs and, thus, a collection of souvenirs is, more appropriately, a collection of tourists.

Paper long abstract:

One of the most usual travellers classifications is the one to establish a clear dicotomy between which travel by scientific reasons and those which travel by leisure. From this opposition the scientific travellers always are seen as interesting and worthy people to study, whereas tourists appears like anodyne beings and no interesting to investigate their motivations nor behaviors. In that sense, the objects carried by the scientific travellers and the tourists, the artifacts and specimens collected in the expeditions and the souvenirs acquired by the tourists, are considered like two classes of radically different things.

Analysing materials from the Canary Islands, where historically have been both many scientific expeditions destination and an important international tourist area, we argue the impossibility to settle down that radical difference between scientific objects and souvenirs.

On the contrary, the two types of objects share similar narratives of exotization and cultural appropriation. Thus, the objects collected in the scientific expeditions also can be considered as souvenirs of trip, whereas, behind their apparent triviality, souvenirs reveals scientific, political and ideological categories about the tourist culture. These two types of objects do not reflect the places and the people those who supposedly represent but, rather, the culture from which they collected them or acquired them. Then, the scientific specimens and the tourist objects are in a same continuum of travel objects. We concluded that a collection of souvenirs would be, more appropriately, a collection of tourists, their conceptions of the exotic and their aesthetic and moral values.

Panel W093
On 'Souvenir': experiencing diversity, objectifying mutuality