Comments on the readings…

Posted: February 13, 2012 by mahmerkhan in Feb 15

The Craft of Glass:


In Rain’s article, Celtic Kitsch: Irish-American and Irish Material Culture, there is importance given to the authenticity of an object that is produced from “another place.” This other place being Ireland and this object being glassware. Rain goes on further explaining that the shopping of a diasporic good is in someways obtaining a piece of culture that is out of place, he uses the phrase “consumption of diasporic goods through mobility.” What would be normal house ware in Ireland becomes a connection to a far away place that has an exotic story. Case specific, glassware, pottery, fabrics such as linen and traditional music instruments or even sporting goods. The importance is placed not only on the good but the story of that good…the making of it, the craftsmanship involved, the timeless of the materials and most importantly, how its been used in an authentic manner ‘ A true representation of the culture.‘ Here lies the problem: the commodification of that object becomes a path to being culturally enlightened, essentially making a culture for sale.


I agree with what Rain explains in his article. An object obtains an increased value once out of context and more importantly, that object holds a story to it. The story is what makes or breaks the object’s value to the buyer. If an object holds a connection to a time and place or reflects an authentic interpretation of a culture then it become a diasporic good. However, does the object need to be out of place? When tourists go to countries, many of them buy their trinkets and material good from tourist markets. Haga Sophia in Turkey is a perfect example. It is a historic place that sells goods for diasporic purposes…to remind someone of a place, time or culture. My question for the class is:


Can one really experience a culture by buying “authentic items”?


The Story on the Story Book:


Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer have made some very interesting arguments in their article Testimonial objects: Memory, Gender, and Transmission. The article uses items that makes connection between past and present. In essence, the object acts as gateway to the past. They also view the items through a feminists perspective analyzing how objects are interpreted and represent the female gender. They have began their argument through a recipe book that was originally made during the second World War under a concentration camp. This recipe book contains the recipes of what some women would make during that time of what they had. Forty years later it has become a historical account of what it meant to cook during the 1940’s under war. Many people of the area use this recipe book as a means of connecting with that time and place through cooking. The second item they use is a small hand sized book that is mainly composed up of pictures. It is the pictures that create the story and thus the interpretation of that story. In this article, it is a story of a doctor who is in the camps diagnosing patients who have lathyrismus disease from food poisoning.


Both books are forms of resistance. Both books metaphorically hold on to their identities regardless of how hard the surrounding environments are. The audience is drawn in because these two books provide detailed accounts of what happened. Not only are they authentic interpretations of what happened, they have an emotional sentiment of pain. That pain is taken in as a part of the Jewish identity. It is that story of going through such a tragedy that makes it so much more than just a book. It is written during a time where if one was caught with such a document, imminent execution would be the result.


What I find interesting is that the recipe book and the picture book both hold a perspective but from a different angle. The recipe book was written by a female for a female and is later celebrated and enacted through the female diaspora. The picture book has pictures that have an event, metaphor and memory ordeal. What I mean by this is that there is an event, a metaphor associated with this and then the memory of such event. There is also a very large aspect on interpretation of the picture book. The recipe is much more straightforward where as the picture book is up to the audience.


What makes the picture a collective interpretation?

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