While some scholars have understood the activity of overseas Christian missionaries primarily in terms of a ‘Colonization of Consciousness’ (Comaroff & Comaroff 1992), a range of recent scholarship has also emphasised the profoundly material dimensions of much missionary activity. While religious conversion was never unimportant historically, many missionaries have been equally heavily involved in practical projects to remake the world. Their global projects have transformed landscapes, forms of architecture and modes of dress, but have also shaped underlying narratives of modernity and modernisation (Keane 2007).
April 11, 2014
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Organized by Anton Schweizer, 2012-2014 IFA/Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
RSVP is required. Please find instructions below.
Japan is widely regarded as an exemplar in terms of the preservation of material integrity, the perpetuation of historical production techniques and the responsible preservation of works of architecture and artifacts in museum contexts. The Japanese certification system for Cultural Property – which also includes the category of Living National Treasures for specialist craftsmen who embody manufacturing techniques as Intangible Cultural Property – has earned far-reaching acclaim. It is frequently overlooked, however, that there is actually a wide range of divergent approaches towards originality and authenticity even in contemporary Japan. While some of these inconsistencies find their counterparts in the West, others are related to pre-modern cultural practices, e.g. concurrent concepts of artifacts in divergent contexts of reception and evaluation.
This conference attempts to shed light on this issue with a series of case studies as a means to deconstruct overly simplistic explanatory models.
The conference schedule will follow three thematic sections:
CALL FOR PAPERS: American Anthropological Association annual meeting, Washington, DC, December 3-7, 2014
While commodity consumption and commodification, especially when tied to globalization, were once primarily defined as superficial pursuits in modern societies linked with the homogenization or “loss” of culture, we now understand that people use commodities, even mass-produced goods, in highly varied and culturally-meaningful ways. Commodities can and do reflect a community’s status, ethnicity, identity, and even morality. The creation, acquisition, and exchange of commodities can be processes of socialization that reinforce some identities and social ties while downplaying or masking others, and this can occur at many scales and toward many purposes. The existence and use of varied commodities by people in ancient and modern communities in ways that create or manifest material patterns (e.g. specialized crafts, organized labor, slavery, the body as a sexualized commodity), reinforces the need and potential of research in all of the subfields of anthropology on this subject.
We welcome papers from across the sub-disciplines of anthropology that explore how communities, past and present, are produced through the practices of making, moving, controlling, and consuming commodities. From Marx’s ‘relations of production’ to Appadurai’s ‘social life of things,’ scholars of society and culture have investigated the links among social organization, cultural practices and identities, and the economy. Building on these ideas, we welcome papers that apply a wide range of theoretical stances. We are especially interested in how a focus on the material dimension of this topic provokes questions about how best to identify, investigate, and understand multi-scalar communities from the perspectives of material remains, social practices, historical patterns, political economies, language and communication, and physical bodies.
If commodities are one anchor for this session, the idea of the community is the other. We define communities in an open-ended way – drawing especially on John Watanebe’s definition of the community as the union of ‘people, place, and premise’ – to investigate the ways in which economic practices are social practices. Defined broadly, communities of study may be imagined (in Benedict Anderson’s sense) and/or ‘real,’ and they may be based in spatial proximity, biology, production, consumption, or other practices.
Questions addressed by this session may include: How do workshops, factories, and unions become sites of social production and group identity? How do changes in global commodity flows challenge existing communities or bring new communities into being, and how do existing communities create links to new commodities? How do commonalities and conflicts over consumption practices galvanize some communities and dissolve others? How do more hidden points in commodity chains – from storage and transportation, to sale and stealing – become the basis for social groups to form and operate? How can communities become commodities in and of themselves (such as tourist destinations)? Linking all of these questions are material patterns that reflect and reinforce communities.
We especially encourage submissions that explore how material goods and the places where they are made, stored, transported, sold, and consumed become anchors for social relations. However, this is not an effort to fetishize the commodity, but rather to better investigate the many ways in which products of economic demand are producers of social groups. Our focus on the material qualities of commodities is deliberate, as it provides a link to various anthropological approaches to study communities past and present.
If you are interested in participating, please contact both John Millhauser (email@example.com) and Dru McGill (firstname.lastname@example.org) with an idea of your topic. The deadline for submitting abstracts to the AAA is April 15 (both for sessions and individual papers). Once we have gauged the level of interest and range of topics, we will contact potential participants to let them know if their paper fits. Participants should be prepared to provide a rough draft of an abstract to us by April 8th so we can organize the session (or sessions, depending on the response) and provide instructions for submitting abstracts to the AAA. Details are also available on the AAA website: www.aaanet.org/meetings/Call-for-Papers.cfm
We also plan to submit this session for sponsorship by the Society for Economic Anthropology: econanthro.org/meetings/sea-at-the-aaas/
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions whatsoever,
John & Dru
Follow the link to view the full program: Museums_Collecting_Agency_Program
Friday, March 7, 2014
Department of Media, Culture, and Communication
New York University Steinhardt
239 Greene Street, Floor 8
New York, NY 10003
This one-day workshop in NYU’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication will consider emergent approaches to media, materiality, and infrastructure. It is inspired by the recent expansion in research on the materiality of media and communication, undertaken in diverse scholarly lineages ranging from material culture, to urban studies, to German media-theory inspired media archaeology. The workshop will explore questions such as: how are new forms of material assemblage affecting mediation? What new forms of agency, sociality, and connectivity are at play? What kinds of materialist approaches are necessary to come to grips with the shifts in media infrastructure? It is our hope that the session will serve as a forum to foreground critical questions on media and materiality, and to connect and advance projects on these topics.
We request that participants register for full-day participation in order to assure a continuous conversation as well as stakeholders for future directions based on this workshop.
As part of the Bard Graduate Center’s commitment to making our innovative programming more widely available and so shaping the global discourse about the cultural history of the material world, we will be live-streaming our seminar series and symposia on the BGC’s channel (which also features an archive of previously streamed events).
In addition, remove viewers will now have the opportunity to join the discussion remotely via twitter, either with questions or comments, by tagging their posts with #BGCTV. During seminars and symposia, the faculty convener will review this feed and ask the speaker(s) questions drawn from twitter.
For a full schedule of 2014 lectures and events, see our calendar.
Our list of live-streaming events for Spring 2014 includes:
Call For Papers
Thinking with Things, 1500-1940:
An interdisciplinary material culture workshop for graduate students
25th April 2014
Deadline for abstract submission: 3rd March 2014
Keynote speaker: Dr Spike Bucklow, Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge
Closing Remarks: Dr Katy Barrett, Royal Museums, Greenwich
Thinking with Things is a one-day workshop to be held on Friday 25th
April, 2014 at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and
Humanities (CRASSH), at the University of Cambridge. Research students
from any discipline within the arts, social sciences, and humanities are
invited to submit proposals for papers, and/or panels of three papers,
that consider how ‘things’ can put a new perspective on the past. This
workshop is affiliated with the ‘Things: Comparing Material Cultures’
seminar series at CRASSH www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/