Souvenirs, materialities and animal encounters: Following Texas cowboy boots



Publication Details

Gibson, C. (2014). Souvenirs, materialities and animal encounters: Following Texas cowboy boots. Tourist Studies: an international journal, 14 (3), 286-301.


Rather than take the tourist or the tourist place as the starting point of analysis, in this article, I begin with a seemingly superficial souvenir object, the Texan cowboy boot, in order to trace a more complex picture of the material cultures of tourism. I describe the Texan boot at the intersection of three threads: historical legacies, materialities of animal encounters and a political economy of 'things' (including their composite materials). The iconic Texas cowboy boot is a mythological but very material object of mobility - made by hand, with wild cowboy flair, by (mostly) Mexican artisans who use slowly accrued haptic skills with a variety of leathers to assemble neocolonial, hyper-masculine artefacts of fashion, fable and travel. Drawing on archival work and interviews in bootmaking workshops, I unravel a historical cultural economy of material production and consumption that entangles animal skins, migrant workers, Western movie stars and tourists.

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