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Souvenirs, Keepsakes, and Tokens

Material and Visual Expressions of Personal Memories

Add to calendar 2022-05-16 09:00 2022-05-16 19:00 Europe/Rome Souvenirs, Keepsakes, and Tokens Sala degli Stemmi Villa Salviati - Castle YYYY-MM-DD


16 May 2022

9:00 - 19:00 CEST


Sala degli Stemmi

Villa Salviati - Castle

Organised by

The researcher-led Visual and Material History Working Group of the Department of History and Civilisation at the European University Institute in Florence is hosting a two-day hybrid conference on the material and visual expressions of individual memories. This event is the third conference in visual and material culture studies.

By encouraging exchanges between different disciplines and scholars, drawing from the fields of historical anthropology, history and art history, and crossing the medieval, early modern and modern periods, we hope that this event will foster new questions and perspectives on the topic of souvenirs, keepsakes and tokens and their trajectory from their creation, distribution and their eventual musealisation or destruction.

People use objects as a memento for fragments of their lives, be they ordinary memories of childhood or old age, or extraordinary memories of travel, wonder, belief, war or oppression. From the inception of pilgrimage, travellers collected and carried tokens of the places they transited through to be later displayed back home or carrying with them reminders of the people they wanted to keep close. Similarly, souvenirs are also meaningful objects in sedentary lives, materialising domestic and intimate moments and tensions within the home and the family. From medieval pilgrimages to present-day immigration, sedentary and mobile individuals all over the globe are engaged in a form of emotional attachment to objects, as reminders of their past. We define souvenirs as mementoes of places and times, tied to individuals and communities who ascribed to them changing meanings and functions throughout their existence. These ever-evolving objects acquired new values and symbolic status. Taking this broad definition of souvenirs, this conference seeks to ascertain how individuals, families and communities memorialise their past through the visual and material world in form of four panels focusing on the themes of time, emotions, prisons & war and travel.

Day 1 of the Conference will be held in hybrid format with speakers in presence and online on zoom. The first day of the conference welcomes Professor Leora Auslander as keynote speaker.

Leora Auslander is Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor in Western Civilisation and Professor of European Social History at the Department of History of the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on the intersection of material culture, everyday life and politics seeking how objects may become catalysts for conflict, identity formation and self-expression, dissent and state intervention. Her work includes Cultural Revolutions: Everyday Life and Politics in Britain, North America, and France (2008) as well as the volume Objects of War (2018) co-edited with Tara Zahra.

Please register in order to get a seat or the ZOOM link.

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