Hello everyone, welcome to my blog. I am a PhD student in Royal Holloway, University of London and this blog is my PhD project’s blog. This project is called Souvenir geographies: authenticity and place-making.

This is a 3 years PhD project starting in 2013. It is in its second stage now, and fieldwork will be done in this year. This project is committed to empirical research, aiming to explore how the tourist souvenirs ‘make’ places in a triple-layer: making site, tourist site, and tourist’s home. The process of place making by tourist souvenir is revealed by following the tourist souvenirs. Two parallel fieldworks based in London and China will be carried out. Following the thing and visual ethnography are the key methods in this research. Souvenirs studying is an innovative and novel topic area in geographical fields, which promises to contribute to discussions in a range of academic topics, for example, material culture, rematerializing cultural geography, Actor Network Theory, Non-Representational Theory, commodifying culture and place, authenticating place, creative geographies, place-making, following the things approach, visual ethnography, and, in particular, tourism studies.
Research questions and Hypothesis
Research questions focus on two themes: authenticity and place making.
How authentic souvenirs are/should be? How authentic is authentic enough?
How tourist souvenirs make/remake their making sites, tourist sites and tourists’ houses? How the London souvenirs (re)make London. When taken home by tourists, how these souvenirs make their homes. How the Chinese souvenirs (re)make Guilin. When taken home by western people, how these souvenirs make their homes. How this experience shape their home place, physically and mentally.

Tourists from China tend to have more tolerance on souvenirs authenticity then UK tourists. Chinese tourists can accept outsourced souvenirs and UK tourists tend to travel to more remote areas to get locally produced souvenirs.
Tourists from UK tend to use souvenirs more often than tourists from China. Chinese tourists rather keeping rather than using souvenirs. China is experiencing a challenging social stage when people from every class began to be exposed to massive materials.
Tourists do buy luxury products as souvenir and they are used. Chinese tourists tend to spend more money on luxury products than locally produced goods.
Two sets of parallel fieldwork are designed to follow the souvenirs. Empirical case study of tourists in London for London souvenirs and tourists in Guilin for Chinese souvenirs. Following the thing approach and visual ethnography are key methods in this research. Photography, video interviews (analysing and making them) and postcard method will be used as supplement methods. Following souvenirs, three types of site in UK and China will be visited: the making site of souvenirs, selling site and home site.
The making site is where souvenirs are made in: factories and craft workshops. In the making site, souvenir itself and its placement (making site’s location) are to be analysised. Craftman will in making site will be interviewed. The selling site consists of two kind of places: one sells iconic souvenirs, other one sells luxury products (assuming my hypothesis that tourists buy luxury products as souvenirs is right). In the selling site, souvenir’s authenticity are more of interesting. Questionnaire as postcards will be handed out to tourists in selling site. Tourists in YHA and other B&B will be interviewed for their opinions on souvenir’s authenticity. Souvenir object analysis form will help. Home site is tourists’ house where they live in. The placement and usage of souvenirs make home place in various ways.


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