Accepted Paper:

Possibilities for Urbanizing and Indigenizing Collections  

Author:

Cara Krmpotich (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

This paper centres upon a collection of Indigenous material heritage and a collective of Indigenous women who call the city of Toronto home. Specific attention is given to souvenir art, its capacity to express urban Indigenous culture, and the need to urbanize and indigenize collecting norms.

Paper long abstract:

This paper centres upon a collection of Indigenous material heritage and a collective of Indigenous women, all of whom now call the city of Toronto their home. Roughly the same age, and from similarly widespread origins, the women's lives and the objects' lives came together regularly and intimately during the course of a four-year program called "Memory, Meaning-Making and Collections" - a partnership between the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto community organization, the First Story Toronto Indigenous community history group, and an interdisciplinary team of university researchers. The program sought to bring urban Indigenous seniors together with the collection as a means of learning about the people and urban Indigenous experience. This paper, then, explores what happens when collections are used to learn about people, rather than when people are used to learn about collections. Particular emphasis is given to an inherently intercultural kind of object: "souvenir" or "tourist" art. The mobility, hybridity, adaptability, aesthetics and beauty of these items frequently places them at the centre of family stories, personal memories, and expressions of urban Indigenous culture. Yet, urban Indigenous life (like souvenir art) sits uneasily in the categories and norms of collecting institutions. Ultimately, I seek to offer possibilities for indigenizing and urbanizing collections.

Panel P050
Re-thinking Source Communities: Plural, Urban Indigenous Communities and Cosmopolitan Objects