Interesting post about Geography

I was reading the history of human geography today and ran into this interesting post by geography.about.com:

http://geography.about.com/od/historyofgeography/a/Geography-At-Harvard.htm

It consists of five pieces about geography, and the first one is a story about the closure of Geography Department in Harvard. (Can’t imagine a university without Geography Department!!!!!)

Among those five pieces, Human Geography and An Overview of Cultural Geography are very interesting as well.

Can’t help sharing when I came across something interesting!

 

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Souvenir from Shanghai – Ai Weiwei and his fighting against imprison of art

This weekend for the first time in its history the Royal Academy of Arts is opening their galleries around the clock for the entire final weekend of Ai Weiwei –  56 hours nonstop!!!

screen shot

Screen capture by author, 13 Dec 2015.

Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most influential artists. What makes him so special and famous is his talent – thought-provoking art projects, as well as his struggle against China’s authority.  But interestingly, his exhibition in RA started while China’s chair man Xi Jinping was visiting UK – the authority and the one struggling with the authority visiting London at the same time. It might have some political meaning or it might not…

‘Souvenir from Shanghai, 2012’ (Cat.19 in the exhibition) is a concrete and brick rubble from the Ai Weiwei’s destroyed Shanghai studio, set in a Qing dynasty (1644–1912) rosewood bed frame.

DSC_2016

Ai Weiwei’s ‘Souvenir from Shanghai’, photo by author, 25 Oct 2015, in RA.

The story behind this project is though provoking. Approximately two months before the Sichuan earthquake, the city government of Shanghai approached Ai with an invitation to build a studio in the nearby agricultural area of Jiading as part of a new cultural district. Although he initially demurred, the artist changed his mind and designed a building with an undulating roofline and a central courtyard.

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A model of Ai Weiwei’s home and studio in front of ‘Souvenir from Shanghai’, photo by author, 25 Oct 2015, in RA.

But by the time the project was realised in 2010, Ai’s relationship with the authorities had soured. He had published his criticism of the Beijing Olympics in such international publications as The Guardian; campaigned vociferously for the rights of the families of  earthquake victims, as well as those affected by the tainted infant formula that caused the deaths of six children and illness in over 300,000 during the summer of 2008; and suffered a beating by the Chengdu police. The Shanghai authorities suddenly notified him in August 2010 that he had failed to apply for the proper building permits and that his studio would be demolished. They razed it on 11 January 2011, yet paid Ai more in compensation than it had cost him to build.

Ai’s art has a clear characteristic which is political-themed.

Everything is art. Everything is politics.

(web resource)

Some opinions collected by myself around me:

  1. The power of decision making in nowadays China is still hold in the hands of a small number of people and others do not have the rights to speak against the decision makers.  Like in the feudal age.
  2. China is making progress on these issues but it takes a long time to finish the transforming and the country is in the middle of it. Just give it time.
  3. Ai Weiwei is a fake-artist who is good at pleasing the western public and politicians with claptrap-themes which are against China so they can put their fingers into China’s internal issues. The western would like to reach the conclusion that communism is not going to work so China would follow the westerns’ guidance.

 

Did you just ask what’s my opinion? Well, Ai Weiwei’s exhibition is the easiest one for me to understand among all the art exhibitions I have visited  🙂

 

 

ps.  13 Dec is a national memorial day for Nanking Massacre (AKA The Rape of Nanking).  May there be peace in the world for good.

 

 

Reference:

Bracker, A. (2015). Ai Weiwei: An Introduction to the Exhibition for Teachers and Students. Available: https://royal-academy-production-asset.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/00adeea4-2828-421c-9c9e-1a935b01ca0b/AWeiwei_final_lowres.pdf. Last accessed 13/12/2015.

Royal Academy of Arts. (2015). Ai Weiwei. Available: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/ai-weiwei. Last accessed 13/12/2015.

Bing’s Souvenir Poker Cards

Bing is a strong Chinese woman in her late 2os, and she has been a traveller for many years. She is from Heilongjiang Province and came to UK to study in 2010 and went back to China this year. Her plan is to run a youth hostel in Harbin.

Her story with souvenirs were started by a set of poker cards she bought in the Forbidden back in the winter of 2006.

Li Bing's Forbidden City Poker Card

Bing’s first set of souvenir poker card. Themed on Forbidden City. Photo provided by Bing, 24/Nov/2015. Same below. 

“I bought this set of poker cards because each card of it has a thorough and detailed introduction of an ancient building in the Forbidden City. It is a souvenir comes with knowledge of the place I have visited – it can help me understand the place better. Also, it is quite small so easier to carry home than other souvenirs. Not so likely to be broken and it is easier to keep.” Bing said.

After nine years of collection, Bing’s poker cards have reached a certain number. Most of them were bought at the site of interest, but some of them came from some special shops which only sell cards.

“I don’t might where the cards are produced. It would not affect my opinion and feelings towards them.” Bing said, “I’ve never used them as normal playing cards, they are my precious souvenirs. I store them in a safe place and take them out to have a look when I remember them or when I am in the mood.”

Li Bing's Poker Cards

Bing’s collection of souvenir poker cards.

 

Beside souvenirs, Bing also collects cards in other ways, like in instant noodles (in some certain era, some brands of instant noodles would put cards in the package for customers to collect. Those cards might come from pop TV dramas, novel illustrations…e.g. Pearl Princess, see below).

Cards of Pearl Princess

Bing’s card collection of TV drama, Pearl Princess. 

After collecting cards, Bing is interested in  collecting other souvenirs. When she travels to a new place, she would buy a set of poker cards, a fridge magnet and send herself a postcard.

It is possible that one of them is missing or she forgets to buy one of them, but she would not buy place souvenirs online. “Missing is missing, I accepted it as part of the place experience. I understand some people buy collections online because they want to have a ‘completed’ collection. But for me, I only want to keep the ones I take home from the places I have been to. Even I forgot to buy, I would not look for them online. It means different.”

Bing started collecting fridge magnet only 1 year ago, so “my collection is not many”, she said.

Li Bing's Fridge Magnet

Bing’s fridge magnets collection. 

Li Bing‘s postcards 2

Bing’s post cards collection, the text side.

Li Bing‘s postcards

Bing’s post cards collection, the pictorial side. 

Bing’s plan is to run a Youth Space – her own youth hostel – in Harbin next year, and she would display all her souvenir collections in the Youth Space.

Best wishes to Bing and I would update here when her Youth Space is open and continue following her souvenirs’ life.

Got my first book review out!!!

Got my first book review out!!!  Here is the link:  Ato Quayson 2014, Oxford Street, Accra, reviewed by Zhuyun Amy Zang.

 

Getting to know tie-dyeing

Hi everyone, finally I am back from fieldwork in China and can update my blog from now on.  I still cannot believe wordpress is blocked (like Facebook does) in China! Anyway, here I am~

My fieldwork in China was quite intense and now I am transcribing the interviews. Along with transcribing, I will post fieldwork story here bit by bit. I might lose my ability to speak English after 3 months in China, so bear with me and tell me whenever you spot a mistake.  Thanks a million~

Today we are getting to know tie-dyeing.  What is tie-dyeing? Let me show you a picture first:

Tie-dyed cloth. Photo by author in Dali. Feb 2015

Tie-dyed cloth. Photo by author in Dali. Feb 2015

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, to tie-dye something is to make patterns on cloth by tying knots in it or tying string around it before you put it in a dye, so that some parts receive more colour than others.

The main Oxford Dictionary says to tie-dye is to produce patterns in (a garment or piece of cloth) by tying parts of it to shield it from the dye.

Wikipedia offered a rather confusing explanation which mixed tie-dyeing and other resist-dyeing techniques, but it got the technique right. The manipulations of the fabric prior to application of dye are called resists, as they partially or completely prevent the applied dye from colouring the fabric. Resist-dyeing techniques were found in Africa, Japan and South Asia – where Dali Zhoucheng Village (Yunnan Province, China) is.

Landscape of Dali

Landscape of Dali

Zhoucheng Bai Zu tie-dyed souvenirs plant a seed deeply in my heart when I travelled to Dali with my mom 17 years ago (1997). This traditional folk craft product of the ethnic minority Bai Zu somehow managed telling me how important authenticity is back that time. Bai Zu tie-dyeing is closely related to Bai Zu people’s life, linking various forms of traditional culture and cultural space. Also, it combined culture and art in one object; hence it has a unique and precious value and vital significance for both Bai Zu culture and Chinese culture as a whole.

The natural environment has deep influence on the ethnic nationality of Bai Zu people. Bai Zu people worship the colour white, so we are called Bai ethnic group – “Bai” means white in Chinese. “You can see our houses use white walls. We like wearing white clothes – our young people all wear white clothes. White means purity, honest and loyalty and integrity, etc., good characteristics, we worship these characteristics.” Yihui Chen, the heir of Blue-white Tie-dyeing House said.

It’s a Bai Zu ethnic tradition that young people wearing white clothes. People of Zhoucheng Village lived on hillside, they went to fields to get firewood, the indigo might coloured their white clothes, and then they discovered that the indigo can be dyestuff, and it can make beautiful blue background and white flowers cloth (Chen, 2015).

In 2006,Bai Zu tie-dyeing was listed in the first national nonmaterial cultural heritage lists (Intangible Cultural Heritage).

Now some Bai Zu tie-dyeing exist as souvenirs. In order to learn about the current situation of tie-dyed souvenirs, I decide to go to Dali again. Dali is a small and remote town in Yunnan Province (southwest China), which is an ethnic minority autonomous region inhabited by ethnic minority Bai Zu. Fieldwork site is Zhoucheng Village (see figure 2), the birth place of Bai Zu tie-dying, and naturally now the making place of most Bai Zu tie-dyeing souvenirs.

A normal street food stand in Zhoucheng Village. Photo by author. Feb 2015

A normal street food stand in Zhoucheng Village. Photo by author. Feb 2015

My fieldwork was carried in Blue-white Tie-dyeing House in Dali (the picture below), and my story is to be continued.

Blue-white Tie-dyeing House @Dali. Photo by author. Feb 2015

Blue-white Tie-dyeing House @Dali. Photo by author. Feb 2015

The biography of a souvenir, a biography of a person: Victoria’s blanket with badges

Victoria's blanket with badges

Victoria’s blanket with badges

The blanket

Souvenirs collecting is a time-consuming hobby. Among all the souvenirs for collecting, badges are unique. It is not in the condition of display or storage – it is designed to be sewed on other things, it is a souvenir to be dealt with, requires extra action before the final touch. Several steps would be gone through for collecting badges as souvenirs. First is to find it and bring it back home from a trip, secondly to sew it on other material, and finally is the storage and displaying of the piece of material with the badge on. Given all these efforts, I know I am going to see a piece of art work today.

Victoria is a female PhD student lives in London now, and she started collecting badges when she was younger. The souvenir she is presenting to me, is a deep blue blanket with lots badges with different colours sewed on the surface. The deep blue blanket is nearly fully covered by badges with bright colour and the visual impact is massive.

Victoria started to give me an introduction of her blanket with badges.

“This is a camp blanket. When I was younger, I was in the Guides and Scout. One of the things they do, is when they go camping, they have a particular blanket they take to keep them warm near the camp fire. So this is a camp blanket made by the Guides. So somewhere……”

Victoria started looking for something on the blanket.

“Ah, here we go”, she find a logo whose colour has faded away in a corner of the blanket then she continues to tell the story how she got her blanket. “You can’t see it very well anymore, but there is the Guide’s logo. So this is like an official Guide in UK camp blanket. And that was the name of my guiding group when I was younger.” She pointed to another faded logo.

“I bought this blanket when I was about 10. First of all I only put my guide badges on there. This corner is my Guide’s badges.”

“Then I have also got a corner sewed on my old Branny badges. So when you are in the Branny, you have material satchel, which is part of your uniform, and you sew your name badges on to that. When I finished with the Branny, I took all my badges off my satchel and when I got my Guide’s blanket, I put them on here

“When I was 13, I got bored of Guides and moved to Scout. So in this corner, I got the badges came from my Scout career. “

My eye got caught by a piece of material sewed on the blanket which is not a badge. Victoria saw my eyes and started explain. “This is a piece of material from a theme camp we once had. It was a cow-boy and Indian theme, and this is my Indian head dress. So when I finish with it I sewed it on my blanket because I thought that was a nice reminder.”

Victoria's blanket with badges

Victoria’s blanket with badges

The collecting of badges

Victoria moved to another corner. “My non-scouting and guiding souvenirs started in this corner. Obviously you know I didn’t stick with Scouting and Guiding, but I did stick on collecting badges. So they start taking off the whole blanket now.” Victoria seemed pleased with her achievement and spoke with pride and smile. “I don’t have a whole lot of space left you can see that is all I’ve got left. Whenever I travel, I try to find myself a badge and I’ve got pretty good at knowing the kind of places in souvenir shops they store them.”

But it is not always as easy as that. “I went to Spain on an undergraduate fieldtrip and I just couldn’t find one. When I went to Bristol recently, I was able to get one for XXXX AASS Britain which is a particular toy attraction. I went to have a look around but I couldn’t find one for Bristol generally. In some places you just can’t get them. But I will look when I travel, and keep looking in all the souvenir shops until I find one.”

Victoria's blanket with badges

Victoria’s blanket with badges

Badges as presents and non-place-related badges – Representing Relations

Some of the badges are given to Victoria as presents. When her friends went on holiday, they bought badges as presents and brought them back for Victoria. “I don’t know how I feel about it,” Victoria comments, “sometimes I like the idea sometimes I don’t, because it feels like I am cheating a bit since I haven’t been to the places.”

When asked to show me one badge given to her as present, Victoria chose one without hesitate. “There is one from Florida, from the Everglades in Florida. It was a present from my ex-boyfriend. I myself have never been to Florida.” According to Victoria, what this badge reminds her is her ex-boyfriend, instead of Florida the place.

Victoria showed me another badge. “This one, the Grand Canyon. I have been to the Grand Canyon, but that was bought for me by somebody else in a different occasion. I feel better about that one because I have been to the place, but it is still different. ”

Also as we moving on, I noticed there are some badges which are not related to places. There is one saying “Staying in the house, Carl” is referring to the Walking Dead Zombie show. Victoria got it as a Christmas present, as well as the angry birds one. These souvenirs do not indicate a place (neither have a picture of a place not have a name of a place on it) and are not place-specific (do not remind Victoria of a place). But some of her souvenirs do not indicate a place but are place-specific souvenirs. “For example this Hello Kitty, I bought it I Camden Market. It reminds me of Camden Market although it does not its name or picture on it. For me, it is a souvenir of a place.”

Victoria’s badge collection started souvenirs for events (Scouting etc.), expanded to travelling souvenirs, took off with place souvenirs, and now is an ongoing project of collecting relations.

Victoria's blanket with badges

Victoria’s blanket with badges

Badges’ before-life and after-life

Before being sewed on the blanket, Victoria’s badges are stored in her sewing box, a very good place to indicate their fate to be sewed on the blanket. And some of them will end up in her sewing box. “I have a compartment here,” Victoria lifted the upper compartment and the lower one revealed itself. “These are the badges I’ve got to sew on. They are on my waiting list. I also got some old badges here. Like this one, I have more than one of these. And I have got some buttons here as well. Sometimes I have a big gap on the blanket I will sew some buttons on, because they are pretty, haha.” Space for souvenirs is not just for souvenirs. “Oh but these buttons I got them when I went to Banbury on holiday last year, oh, now is the year before last year. Again they don’t have place name on it but they remind me of that holiday, in Banbury somewhere in Oxfordshire.” In the button’s case, souvenirs and non-souvenirs are sharing one space: the lower compartment of Victoria’s sewing box.

Collecting badges and sewing them on her blanket needs time. When she was an undergraduate and a master student, it was hard to sew the badges on, according to Victoria. “Because I need a big flat area like this to lay the blanket out on it, and then sew on my badges. I didn’t have a space like that in halls. When I was in university, I got a little bit behind on my badges……oh…. I have got a huge tangle here.” Victoria was sewing on a badge while we having the interview. While she is untangling the thread, she continued, “When I move to London, I have a chance to catch up.”

This makes me rethink about doing an interview while my interviewee shows me how they deal with their souvenirs. They are easily cast away into memories the souvenirs intrigue. My methods needs to be improved.

When asked about what she is going to do when the whole blanket is full, which is not far away from now, Victoria hesitated a little bit. “Well, that is a good question. I have to decide what I am going to do. Hmm. I won’t stop collecting, obviously. I think what I am going to do is, get another blanket, I will try to get one of the same size, ideally. So when both of them are full, I can sew them together, and have it double-sided.”

Victoria's sewing box

Victoria’s sewing box

Authenticity of the badges

This project is interested in the authenticity of souvenirs. When asked about the making site of her souvenir badges, Victoria seems paying less attention to their authenticity. “Actually I don’t know… I would guess they are not produced locally, but I am OK with it. For me, the fact that they represent the place and they remind me of it is what is important. So they help me remember it. That is what matters for me. So it doesn’t matter where it comes from because it has got you know a picture or the name of the place.”

Further more, we talked about other souvenirs on their authenticity. I asked about Victoria’s opinion on badges of Finland, France etc. being sold in the souvenir shop Great Britannia in Piccadilly Circus, she said “I think it is a little bit odd, if I am honest. But I have seen it quite often. We can buy badges for other countries in souvenir shops in London, and we can buy badges for London in Brighton and Oxford… Personally I would not buy them myself.” But in other situation, Victoria is more open about it. When she couldn’t find a badge in the place she travelled to, but see one in the souvenir shop in London, “yes I will buy it. But not if I have not been to the place.”

Wang Wei’s Beijing Opera Facial Mask beverage coaster: Transnational Home Making

Wang Wei’s Beijing Opera Facial Mask beverage coaster: Transnational Home Making

Wang Wei's set of Beijing Opera Facial Mask Coaster

Wang Wei’s set of Beijing Opera Facial Mask Coaster

To see the souvenir, and how Wang Wei handles her souvenir:

A close-up of the Beijing Opera Facial Mask beverage coaster

The placement of the Beijing Opera Facial Mask beverage coaster in Wang Wei’s:

the set of 4 Beijing Opera Facial Masks as souvenir: 

Wang Wei is a female Chinese from Tieling in Liaoning Province, which is in northeast of China. Being in her mid-twenty now, she has been living in UK for 5 years. She said she had spent the most beautiful years of her life in UK. Finishing her study in 2012, she and her Polish boyfriend (now her fiancée) moved to Reading and both found jobs in Reading. She and her fiancée mortgaged a comfortable two-story house in east Reading.

Firstly arrived in Wang Wei’s house is 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Sunlight penetrated the wide window on the wall dividing the garden and the living room. She invited me in and asked me to sit down on the sofa. While she was away in the kitchen fetching a cup of tea for me, I took the chance to observe her newly bought house. Water-blue wall paper was smoothly glued on the walls. The floor is clean. The sofa is dry, soft and clean. In front of me is a modern style glass coffee table which added extra life to the living room. The glass on the coffee table is clear and shiny, with reflection of bright window. There were some cakes and snacks on the coffee table. The coffee table has a black lower shelf, with some magazines, CDs and other things on it, well orgnised. Everything in this house were bright and new. They were new-borns in this family and were ready to have their own biography.

Wang Wei's living room

Wang Wei’s living room

While waiting for the water to boil, Wang Wei came out from kitchen, and took two beverage coasters from the black lower shelf, placed them on the coffee table. These two beverage coasters were ordinary ones, with some flowers on their surfaces.  Wang Wei went back to the kitchen and carried two mugs out with her, and placed them on the two floral beverage coasters.

Wang Wei seemed happy when we start talking about her souvenirs. She reached down to the black lower shelf, and took another beverage coaster. The souvenir Wang Wei going to introduce to me was among other mundane beverage coasters. Wang Wei’s beloved souvenir was a Beijing Opera Facial Mask beverage coaster. Like other beverage coasters, it was made of plastic and paper. What made it outstanding from other coasters, is there is an iron part in the centre of it, which can prevent the heat go through. This is a traditional Beijing Opera Facial Mask on the iron. It is an icon of China.​

Wang Wei's Beijing Opera Facial Mask Coaster

Wang Wei’s Beijing Opera Facial Mask Coaster

She bought the souvenir object in August 2012 in Beijing Capital Airport, when she and her fiancée flied back to UK from Beijing after they went to pay a visit to Wang Wei’s family in China. I interviewed Wang Wei on 25 Oct 2014 @ her home in Reading, which was two years later after their trip in which they collected this souvenir. Back in 2012, it was her first time to bring her fiancée home to see her parents. Their transnational relationship has broadened the scale of this interview immediately.

When asked should souvenirs be produced locally and why, Wang Wei gave me a clear answer. Wang Wei explains: if it is sold in a tourist attraction spot it is better to be produced in that place, because it represents that place’s character. If it is sold in transporting places like airport, she is ok with souvenirs represent a larger scale to be sold. She offered an example, she is happy to see souvenirs represent other places in China to be sold in Beijing Capital Airport.

(follow up question: buy souvenirs representing where they have not been to, representing somewhere else)

Wang Wei holds a half open opinion for out-sourced souvenirs too. Firstly she stands in sellers’ shoes: to the sellers (who sell outsourced souvenirs in a tourist attraction) there must be some benefits. As we know, if the souvenirs are produced in countries like China and India where human labour is cheaper, the purchasing price  can go down a little bit, if sold at the same price, our-sourced souvenirs can bring more benefit to souvenir shops. But for foods, Wang Wei really prefers it to be produced locally, and even on the spot, because of the freshness.

Then we talked about the usage of this beverage coaster souvenir. Wang Wei thinks a souvenir coaster should be used as a coaster: glasses should be placed on it. “When I drink a cup of tea, I place my cup on this coaster… But since it has the Beijing Opera Facial Masks design on it, I handle it more carefully.” She explains how she use the Beijing Opera Facial Mask beverage coaster.

Wang Wei prefer to collect functional and practical souvenirs which will become handy at some points. She also displays photos in well-designed frames in the house.

There is an interesting point raised in Wang Wei’s interview: this Beijing Opera Facial Mask beverage coaster does not only reminds Wag Wei of beautiful and wonderful memories, but also unpleasant memories. “Every time I saw it it reminds me the flight in Beijing Capital Airport was delayed for two hours that day… Hehe… And how helpless my fiancée and I were…” Wang Wei’s face expression showed her unpleasantness was true and the souvenir did remind her about the unlucky times. But she indicated that she will keep this souvenir, no matter what.

In my opinion this souvenir plays a more important role in Wang Wei’s home-making which she herself has not thought of yet. Wang Wei originally came from China and now living in Britain with her Polish fiancée. Souvenirs from Poland and China would presumably have a huge impact on abstract conceptualization of home in Wang Wei’s case. Home is not just a place for relaxing activities but also being a meaningful place. Wang Wei’s Beijing Opera Facial Mask beverage coaster is a material and symbolic intersection of Wang Wei’s home and her homeland China.

In Wang Wei’s home, national symbols serve not only to make domestic paces home-like, but also to domesticate ideas of the nation, making Wang Wei partly feel like still living in her birth country. Souvenirs in home articulate domestic spaces to national experience (Noble, 2002:54)

The evidence of this opinion can be found in the ways how Wang Wei handle this Beijing Opera Facial Mask coaster. She confirms that she would not throw the souvenirs away even if it is broken in the future. The inner part of this souvenir is made of metal, but Wang Wei still think it is unsecure that she always have something representing China in her home. The solution is, she has back-ups.

Wang Wei's set of Beijing Opera Facial Mask Coaster

Wang Wei’s set of Beijing Opera Facial Mask Coaster

“It is from a set. This is the green face, which represents a deceitful person in Beijing Opera. There are red face, white face and black face in this set as well.” Wang Wei continues. As I go further asking whether she would throw them away if all in the set are broken, Wang Wei answers: “I don’t think they will be broken, but just the metal facial mask gets blurred. I think I will still keep them, they are souvenirs after all.”

Links of Souvenir Object Analysis Form

Data collection is a ongoing process: I am interested in your souvenir collections even the even the project’s fieldwork is finished. Share your story with your souvenir with me by filling in the souvenir survey forms.

I hold a free account on Survey Monkey which means limited questions are allowed ( 10 questions this time), so the form is stretched into two parts.

The two links of souvenir survey forms:

Part 1.
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/66GN9LR

Part 2.
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6ZFR3L7

The Isle of Wight Souvenirs

Joined a outdoor group Maji Hiking to Isle of Wight (4 miles from the south coast of England) in August. This was my first hiking and camping trip ever!  We spent 3 days hiking on the island and slept in tents at night. It was an amazing trip: the wild landscape, the beautiful scenery, the calming seaside, the astonishing sunset, the challenging hiking and new-to-me camping were imprinted in my memory since then. I wrapped all the experience and beauty of Isle of Wight home with me by installing them into souvenirs.

The paper souvenirs of Isle of Wight

The paper souvenirs of Isle of Wight

I have an free Isle of Wight  Attraction Map taken from a bus stand in Ryde, where we got off the boat from Southampton. This map gave us a general idea of the island and the hiking route we were going to take in the following days. I remember when the hiking leader showed me the hiking route on this map, I took a very deep breath!

We took a bus from Ryde to Newport, and on the bus I got a free Isle of Wight Activity Pack, which has a thoroughly introduction to Isle of Wight, from history to geography, from economy to tourism, from activity to birds found on the island.

After arriving Newport, we got some food and drinks and started walking towards our camping site in the southwest.  We passed the Carisbrook Castle, and arrived at Freshwater camping site. The first tent made by us (below, left):

Camping on Isle of Wight

Camping on Isle of Wight

Sunset on Isle of Wight

Sunset on Isle of Wight

Finished making our temporary home, we went to the Needles to admire sunset (above, right) and then walked back to camping site in darkness…….    I was afraid we might get lost in the darkness, but it still fell safe with so many hikers around. We arrived at camping site at 9.10 pm.  After taking a shower, I fell asleep immediately,  too tired to join the star watching which was happening outside the tent.  T.T

The next day, waking up at 7, can’t feel my eyes and my legs…     After breakfast, we walked to Alum Bay to see the Needles from east side (yesterday we were above the Needles on the chalky soils) and enjoyed the rocky seaside (a friend took one rock with him as souvenir).  Had a great time in the Needles Park and got a souvenir: the Isle of Wight fridge magnet mug in the Needles gift shop.

 Isle of Wight map fridge magnet mug

Isle of Wight map fridge magnet mug

After lunch we took bus ride (can’t remember how long it was but pretty sure it was very long!) to Feeth Bay in the southeast, and then started walking again. It was 1 o’clock. Half an hour later, we arrived at St Catherine’s Lighthouse, which was hiding in some woods near seaside. I got my their souvenir here: the St Catherine’s Lighthouse compass.   Had an interesting conversation with the shop keeper from  St Catherine’s Lighthouse gift shop.

Me: Oh, they are nice postcards.

Shopkeeper: Indeed!  Very beautiful.

Me (looking at the compass): You have compass here!  Were looking for one.

Shopkeeper: Yes we do, there are many hikers here and they like outdoor products as souvenirs. And they are not expensive. Just one pound.

Me: Right, of course.

Shopkeeper:  Where are you from?

Me: China.

Shopkeeper: Ha, then it probably will go back to China with you.

Me: Is it made in China? It has got the name St Catherine’s Lighthouse printed on its back.

Shopkeeper: Yes it is, and what else isn’t?  You know China have produced most of the products for the world. But this is a very good compass. It is oil filled which makes it move freely.

Me: And it has the place’s name. Ok, I will take it.

Then I paid one pound for this compass:

St Catherine's lighthouse Compass

St Catherine’s lighthouse Compass

St Catherine's lighthouse Compass

St Catherine’s lighthouse Compass

we spent 10 hours on the way and arrived at camping site at 11 pm.  10 hours walking and sightseeing, I fell in love with this beautiful, lovely little island. At 8 pm, after 7 hours of walking, we were hungry and nearly gave up. The idea of catching a bus or calling a taxi came up and then finally killed by our spirits.  23-25 August on the island was a great time.  I have the magnet mug stick on the fridge in our flat among with other magnets from other places.

One month passed, whenever I looked at these souvenirs, I remember the great times on Isle of Wight and want to go hiking again!

Souvenir Geographies — My first year PhD presentation in Landscape Surgery

This is a reflection on my first year PhD presentation in Landscape Surgery

Landscape Surgery

Shirt of London Made in Turkey, (photo by author, taken in Cool Britannia, summer 2014) Shirt of London Made in Turkey, (photo by author, taken in Cool Britannia, summer 2014)

The first_year PhD presentation day is a tradition of Landscape Surgery. I attended it last year as a audience when I was a MA student, and I am honored to be a speaker in it this year. For the LS presentation, I created a slide show to help demonstrate my PhD (available here), which can also give you a taste of my PhD.

This project looks at a widely_loved object: souvenir. Many people keep souvenirs as reminders of a person, place, or event. Souvenir is inherently geographical based on its nature. Souvenir’s mobility is its most outstanding geographical characteristic: souvenirs move from the place of tourism to the place of home; from ‘extraordinary’ place to the world of the ‘ordinary’. Although souvenirs take on many forms, functions and representations, they are often formally associated with a specific geographical place.

Studies related to souvenirs in SCG are rare. Morgan & Pritchard (2005) studied souvenir & self-identity; Hashimoto & Telfer (2007) talked about authentic geographical souvenirs in Canada; Ramsay (2009) had an impressive field work of souvenir production sites in Swaziland; while Peters (2011) studied banal souvenirs’ home placement. Souvenirs studies have potential for exploration.

My PhD project ‘Souvenir Geographies: Authenticity and Place Making’ focus on souvenirs on two way: one is to explore how souvenirs’ authenticity and meaning change along with places; secondly it looks at how souvenirs shape places in the terms of place making. This process is revealed by following souvenirs in a linear route: from the making sites, tourist sites, transport sites (AKA non_places: airports, train stations; Augé, 1994) and then to the tourists’ homes. In this quadruple layer process, souvenir’s spatiotemporal peculiarity makes it a great object to follow, and to analysis from a geographical perspective. Putting my Cultural Geographer’s hat on, I analysis souvenirs based on their spatial movements.

In the terms of methodology, ‘following the thing’ and visual ethnography are the most basic and key methods used through out the whole project. Apart from these, semi_structured interviews, using postcards as a method, participant observation, keeping fieldwork diary: text, image and video, and blogging as a method (project blog) are also used in this project. When it comes to field work, two fields are considered for this project. The first one is UK, and the other is China. In each case, equal factories, tourist sites, transporting sites and homes will be visited and same number of postcards will be handed out.

Souvenirs studying is an innovative and novel topic area in Cultural Geography, which promises to contribute to discussions in a range of geographical topics: material culture, place and, in particular, tourism studies.

Zhuyun (Amy) Zang, PhD Candidate

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