Affictive cartographies

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Souvenirs fuse memories with place, creating an amalgam of reality and imagination inscribed on the portable, designed artefacts of tourism and travel. As part of a cross disciplinary investigation between design, cultural geography and tourism this paper focuses on the relationship between souvenirs and the imagined geographies they create. Built on myths and stereotypes created through the non-official channels of tourism souvenirs literally carry and spatialise 'imagined geographies' a concept from cultural geography used to understand places and landscapes which are imagined, and may or may not have physical expression. Through examples of Australian souvenirs the paper presents an argument that souvenirs as vernacular objects make visible particular sorts of imagined geographies which create non-official, affective cartographies as alternatives to those officially sanctioned by tourism campaigns and agencies. Souvenirs, through their constructed, metonymic, and symbolic dimensions, will be conceptualised as creating 'affictive' landscapes, imagined terrains that are both affective and fictive. Presenting a series of creative projects as case studies this paper questions whether it is possible to map the imagined geographies created by souvenirs and asks what kind of cartographies are created by these portable landscapes. Finally the paper concludes by questioning the subliminal impact these vernacular cartographies have on shaping multiple and ambiguous understandings of site, place and landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventPortable Landscapes: Environments on the Move - Durham University, College of St Hild and Bede (United Kingdom), Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 09 Jul 201510 Jul 2015 (Conference information)


ConferencePortable Landscapes
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
OtherLandscapes are ways of framing and shaping the environment for aesthetic, social, political and economic purposes. In their ambivalent configuration, they stand for both an actual tract of land, crafted by nature or human intervention, and its visual or verbal representation. Within this framework, recent scholarship has turned the attention toward the production of material landscape objects that make environments physically move through time and space. The mimetic gesture that transforms a given environment into a ‘landscape object’ dovetails with a multifaceted range of emotional attachments, mnemonic associations and symbolic attributions that allows us to possess a place imaginatively and creatively. In their radical reduction and vernacular configuration, these objects provide us with worlds in miniature, able to exercise their own agency – objects that we can put in our bags, stick in our pockets or hold in our hands. In crafting, collecting, displaying and sharing landscape objects, we create landscape communities figuratively pinned on a physical or mental map.

In order to explore the material and symbolic functions of these portable worlds and their multiple affective configurations, the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures (CVAC) at Durham University is hosting an interdisciplinary conference in Durham on July 9-10 2015.
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