Accepted Paper:

Du souvenir a l'avenir: animal memories, animal futures  


Charlotte Townsend-Gault (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

Animals on Native carvings around Vancouver constitute a prominent part of the urban bestiary. In their souvenir versions these animal bodies, coded Native, suggest access to an unknowable other and articulate anxieties about an uncertain future represented by the fate of animals. They enable the move from logos to pathos.

Paper long abstract:

Animals on totem poles and Native carvings of all kinds, are increasingly prominent in Vancouver's parks and airport, in museums, galleries, and in portable versions in the kind of stores at which tourists, but not only tourists, shop, where they constitute a significant part of the urban bestiary. The current widespread trans-disciplinary interest in animals encourages attention to the neglected role of the image of the animal as a specific component of publicly accessible Native imagery. Attempting to deal with the fact that most of the territory of British Columbia remains un-ceded land, an acrimonious, potentially explosive treaty process is currently underway with political and economic tensions between native and non-Native at an all time high in the province. The paper relates to a larger study of the ways in which the display of Indigenous motifs and imagery in urban British Columbia acts simultaneously, under these circumstances, as evasion and disguise. Less racialized, less essentialized, than Native art as such has become, dispersed animal imagery is relational, active in the contemporary spaces where Native and non-Native are brought into de-territorialized contact. Is it the case that visual and affective interaction with images of animals, when coded Native, provide access to spaces that are typically blocked, obfuscated or reduced in verbal or published explanatory accounts, both popular and specialist? In working to short circuit troublesome politics and the anxieties around the unknown, or unknowable, other, they enable a defining move from logos to pathos.

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