We bring home mementoes because we want a tangible memory of a time or place. Ulrike Zitzlsperger ponders souvenirs and how they reshape history

// It is instructive to explore souvenir shops. The souvenirs I have in mind are not those items that can be found everywhere and that have no genuine link to a particular place; things that are made in bulk and simply adapted slightly to fit the location in which they are being sold. The souvenirs that nobody you know would ever really buy, but they do, of course, sell: the little plastic televisions with a number of popular images to click through, all-black postcards of a city at night, dolls in costume, T-shirts with local images that you last saw worn at the airport. The more up-to-date range includes postcards that allow you to rebuild famous monuments, bottle openers in the shape of certain sights, regional versions of Monopoly or notebooks with town plans and index stickers – the last a nod towards the contemporary city dweller who has fallen in love with a metropolis. Souvenirs are a major industry and an important aspect of popular culture. After all, even the philosopher Walter Benjamin appreciated snow globes.

Read full story, and see my piece of travel writing on finding a Souvenir of St Ives.

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