Cover AGR 22

ISBN: 978-3-900830-89-2

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Lukas C. Husa

From the First Travel Souvenirs to Modern "Airport Art"

An Analysis of the Commodificaion of Handicraft Based on the Exemple of Southeast Asia

Wien 2020, 212 Seiten

Everyone knows the complaints of long-distance travelers and lovers of exotic destinations that once everything used to be more original, “authentic”, that one could still buy “real, genuine” handicraft objects and not only souvenirs produced in mass production for the global tourist world market, which hardly have any connection to traditional material culture in tourist destinations. Such complaints come particularly often from travelers and tourists travelling so-called “third world” countries such as the countries of Southeast Asia. However, as is so often the case, the “before-was-everything-better” lament does not stand up to closer historical examination. 

Therefore, it is a central concern of this book to investigate the development and changes of the souvenir economy from colonial times to the age of current (mass) tourism in Southeast Asia. Using various sources and methods, continuities and discontinuities in the commodification process of handicrafts in continental Southeast Asia are identified, from the early travel souvenirs of colonial travellers and early ethnographers during the 19th and early 20th centuries to the modern souvenirs purchased by contemporary (mass) tourists. Recent developments of the souvenir business and the situation on “producer side” are analysed using the example of four hill tribe villages in the two northern Thai provinces Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son and of the “tourist markets” in the city of Chiang Mai.