Tag Archives: souvenirs

CFP: Objects From Abroad in 18th-20th Centuries (New York, 25 Apr 13)

Objects From Abroad. The Life of Exotic Goods in France and the United States (18th-20th Centuries)

25th April 2012

CNRS NYU Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Transitions UMI 3199, 4 Washington Square North, New York, New York, 10003,

Deadline for abstracts : Dec 31, 2012

The development of material studies and consumption studies, of
anthropology of the material world and the material culture of art
history shows growing interest for the material dimension of pictures
and goods. This perspective calls attention to the physical and social
life of things. In this sense, our conference looks to analyse the
production of goods and their transformation, in connection with their
various uses and contexts. A historiography focusing on the
construction of international spaces and exchanges through the
movements of things, goods, merchandises and artworks is currently on
its way.

This conference would like to concentrate on the goods imported in
France and the United States between the 18th and the 20th century, and
their existence within their new environment: business or tourist
trips, where the exotic objects were collected and gathered in private
spaces; scientific expeditions, where “anthropological” artefacts were
collected for Western museums. What kind of things and goods were
brought back to New York City, Paris, and the other American and French
cities – and through cities of many countries – between the 18th and
the 20th century? How were they exhibited, put on display, but also
converted and updated? We wish to interrogate the life and “career” of
goods, their collection and their circulation, as well as the way in
which goods acted upon reception societies. What was the impact of
these objects on ways to consume, to live, to dress, to create? What
about the processes of translation and interpretation that accompanies
such uses and appropriation?

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A History of New York in 50 Objects

[Greek Coffee Cup, 1960s; from the NY Times site]

An artichoke and an elevator. A Checker taxicab and a conductor’s baton. A MetroCard and a mastodon tusk.

Inspired by “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” the British Museum’s BBC radio series and book, the NY Times recruited historians and museum curators to identify 50 objects that could embody the narrative of New York.

Perhaps coincidently (perhaps not), the same issue also contains this article about the value of souvenirs (although readers of Material World might want to defend the term “stuff” from its headline-writing detractors, as the author herself goes on to do).