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Taking-place: refracted enchantment and the habitual spaces of the tourist souvenir

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This paper explores how a renewed engagement with conceptions of objects in social and cultural geography can be informed by empirical research with tourist souvenirs undertaken in Swaziland (Southern Africa) and the UK. It begins by considering how Jane Bennett's (2001) notion of enchantment offers a useful imagination of materiality of the souvenir-object. In particular, the 'momentary immobilising encounter' of enchantment translates into ethnographic research attentive to the presence of objects as they interrupt the flow of everyday life. This paper explores how the method of 'following' might be adapted to attend to the processual nature of object agency and materiality. It draws upon research into how objects were produced, marketed, sold and purchased as souvenirs in various locations in Swaziland (Southern Africa), as well as how souvenir-objects were displayed, used and kept in tourist's homes across the UK. Enchantment was both integral to and yet excessive of interactions with these objects. This paper therefore develops the notion of 'refracted enchantment' to explore the presence of things as always produced, habitual and residual. In doing so it demonstrates how the complexity of relations between people, things and their spatiality take-place through souvenir-objects.
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Keywords: Swaziland; follow the thing; material culture; relationality; tourism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Sheffield,

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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