Opening the memory boxes: magical realism and the Haida people

Lecture


Lovell, J. 2017. Opening the memory boxes: magical realism and the Haida people. University of Minnesota Press.
AuthorsLovell, J.
TypeLecture
Description

This paper explores how perceptions of the authenticity of the Haida people in the Pacific Northwest on the Haida Gwaii archipelago have emerged over time. The paper is interdisciplinary, linking tourism, heritage and Canadian studies and has an anthropological and cultural emphasis. Tourism provides the ideal crucible in which to examine international perceptions of Canadian living history and embodied memory through direct, unscripted encounters between hosts and travellers. Signifiers of Haida authenticity have emerged since anthropologists such as Franz Boas and Henry Field observed the Haida people, objectifying the artefacts which they collected and museumified.

The research explores how ‘staged authenticity’ has been selectively promoted both by the British Columbian tourist authority in various forms. Local tourism promotion emphasises how Haida Gwaii is a magically real place, connected both to the spiritual practises of local people and to the natural environment. Whilst tourists are urged to experience living history in the form of indigenous practises and are encouraged to try local skills and experiences, such as the making of bentwood boxes, the paper argues that they never truly glimpse the unstaged backstage. A more authentically inclusive encounter is offered through the local Haida guides ‘the Watchmen’ on the islands of the archipelago, instructing visitors about life on the islands and exploring the meanings of the World Heritage site and the iconic totem poles which symbolise embodied memory. Digital museum encounters, which present new meeting grounds for tourists and First Peoples in Canada present new opportunities for co-creating remembrance and reinvention.

Year2017
ConferenceBritish Association of Canadian Studies Annual Conference 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited15 May 2018
CompletedJul 2017
Output statusUnpublished
PublisherUniversity of Minnesota Press
JournalTransmotion on Native American Narratives in a Global Context.
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