Accepted Paper:

The notion of anti-souvenirs  


Anthony Shelton (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will examine how the study of certain subcategories contained within Susan Stewart’s well known three-partite classification of collecting lead to a consideration of their mutually interacting functions and meanings in the construction / deconstruction of selfhood. Two of these categories will be examined, both what we call anti-souvenirs, to explore their relation with the notion of ‘souvenir’ expounded within Stewart’s seminal work, On Longing.

Paper long abstract:

Two types of anti-souvenir will be examined. The first will focus on the surrealist's notion of the found object, artifacts, it will be argued that not only open the doors to unexpected universes and provoke a rupture in ordinary consciousness and perception, but which also dissolve histories centred on the existence of a discretely constructed individualism. The second example will be based on religious 'souvenirs' that can be collected during pilgrimages to miraculous sites associated with the Virgin Mary in the Canary Isles. The pilgrimage represents an individual's aspiration to commune with divinity, a denial of the conditions of their physical existence and desire to become part of a universal transcendental body. In both examples individual histories are replaced by transcendental determinants which are marked and remembered through the acquisition of specific types of objects. The study of these sub-cateegories indicate how Stewart's tripartite classification of objects can be extended to open up new ways in understanding the way artifacts work on the articulation of conscious / unconscious aspects of life histories.

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