The human desire to collect objects is long recognized in historical and cultural studies where emphasis has been placed on memory institutions and their role in public life. Individual collecting, however, has been addressed primarily through the lens of wealthy obsessives or hoarders. Yet between these extremes, an interdisciplinary research literature has emerged since the late decades of the twentieth century that moves our understanding and focus from the psychoanalytic study of inner drives to the empirical study of objects in identity presentation and group membership. The normalization of collecting as a human activity offers a richer understanding of our relationship to objects through time and can accommodate the emergence of digital collectibles in contemporary studies. A model of collecting is presented that treats the collecting process as normal, extended, and representative of an individual's lived experience.


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pp. 255-280
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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