Mundane Objects: Materiality and non-Verbal Communication by Pierre Lemonnier

Haidy Geismar, UCL

The latest issue of Hau has a symposium on Pierre Lemmonier’s latest book, Mundane Objects, with commentary by Bruno Latour, Chris Ballard, Tim Ingold, Paul Graves-Brown, Susanne Küchler and a response by Pierre Lemmonier. The series of comments essentially sum up a “state of the art” comment on material culture theory, which Tim Ingold pithily sums up to date:

Perhaps there is something to be said for going back to the anthropological debates of the 1960s and 1970s on such themes as symbolic condensation, the distinction (or lack of it) between ritual and practical-technical actions, and how to do things with and without words. Arguably, our understandings have not been much advanced by subsequent approaches to material culture, for example by treating it as a system of signs whose meanings could be read off from the objects themselves, by entering them as candidates for social life but only as tokens of exchange among human beings, or by focusing on their consumption at the expense of their production.Nor—and here I agree wholeheartedly with Lemonnier—is there anything to be gained from leaving the heavy lifting to such philosophical juggernauts as “agency” and “materiality.” Most agency-speak is as tautologous as the functionalism it replaced: where before, if the presence of a thing has effects (and it would not be present if it did not), these effects were attributed to its functioning, nowadays they are attributed to its agency.

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Copies, Copyright and Preservation

Special Issue co-edited by Ines Weizman and Jorge Otero-Pailos

Future Anterior invites essays that explore the relationship between copyright and preservation from a historical, theoretical and critical perspective. Both copyright and preservation laws are aimed at protecting unique human achievements, but they point to different, even opposing threats. Whereas copyright is meant to protect private interests from public encroachments, preservation mostly aims to safeguard the public interest against private forces. But as the categories of private and public are redrawn under the pressures of globalization, what challenges and opportunities lay ahead for preservation?

Both preservation and copyright law attempt to answer a basic question: Who has the right to make a copy? This question has a long but unexplored history within preservation.… Continue Reading

CFP: Studies and Dialogues between Anthropology and Art

We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers and Visual Projects for the Conference Studies and Dialogues between Anthropology and Art organized by the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. The conference will take place in Lima on November 19 -21, 2014.

The keynote speakers for our conference will be Dr. George Marcus, Chancellor´s Professor of Anthropology at University of California Irvine, and Dr. Fred Myers, Silver Professor of Anthropology at New York University.

The deadline for submissions is August 05, 2014. The language of the Conference will be Spanish. For more information and conference updates, please visit our website at seminario.pucp.edu.pe/antropologia-arte/

We look forward to submissions!

Regards,

Giuliana Borea, Conference coordinator… Continue Reading

Theorising Personal Medical Devices: New Perspectives

CfP, Symposium hosted by the Social Analysis of Health Network, Cantab

Closes Monday 14 July

Having worked with Professor Julienne Hanson at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies for some time, I became increasingly aware of the relationships between materiality and social well-being. Indeed, there is currently some fascinating scholarship on the issues dealing with ethnography and technology as well as the home, the indi-vid(s)ual and collective forms of medical care.

This current symposium CfP is a fine example of this, featuring medical anthropologists known in the UCL community as well as within EASA and other networks.

For further info please see:

Social Analysis of Health Network (SAHN) website:
sahncambridge.wordpress.com/

 

18-19 September 201, Post-doctoral Suite, 16 Mill Lane, University of Cambridge.Continue Reading

Material culture in Hungary and everywhere else

Daniel Miller, UCL

 

Krisztina Fehérváry 2013 Politics in Color and Concrete: socialist materialities and the middle class in Hungary. Indiana University Press

Léna Pellandini-Simányi  2014 Consumption Norms and Everyday Ethics. Palgrave Macmillan

Hungary is a good place to take stock of the current state of material culture studies. Because Hungary is simply a good emblem of `anywhere,’ in that it represents neither a vanguard nor a backwater, but works as simply another ordinary place. That is significant to me because the material culture studies that I guess I have always wanted to promote are precisely about this same ordinary whether as blue jeans, or domestic interiors.

Fehérváry’s exemplary scholarship, both historical and ethnographic, takes us through both socialist modernism and post-socialist consumer modernism in the development of contemporary Hungary.… Continue Reading

Best of Material World Blog: On Making, Craft, and Unmaking

Haidy Geismar, UCL

In this post, I link to the very best posts in our archive focused on making, doing and craft.

In Fixing, Things, Fixing Ourselves, Lydia Nicholas writes about Suguru, an open source material for extending the life of mass produced (or any other) artifacts.

In Plan B for a Nuclear Reactor, Paul Williams describes the transformation of a nuclear power plant into a heritage site.

Gabriella Coleman outlines her  theory of hackers, liberalism, and pleasure, which became an important part of her book, Coding Freedom.

Ian Ewart was an Anthropologist Looks at Engineering. 

Adam Drazin presents the Mechanical Postcard, an intervention into UCL Ethnography Collections by Mattijs Siljee, of Massey University, New Zealand.

And on the opposite side of making, unmaking, Helen Polson writes about how Death Bear Wants Your Unhappy Things.… Continue Reading

Authoring King’s Cross

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Who will author the future of King’s Cross? You are invited to join us for an in-person and on-location collaborative update to Wikipedia’s entry for King’s Cross Central on 21st June at The Crossing, Central Saint Martins, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA.We will consider the contents of the existing article and identify what is missing and why. Throughout the afternoon, we will update the Wikipedia entry to more fully reflect the history and contemporary dynamics of King’s Cross from a variety of perspectives. Anyone with an interest is welcome to drop by between 2.30 and 5.30pm.This event is part of the Contested Spaces forum at Central Saint Martins and will be immediately followed by a panel discussion on the theme of Gentrification and Regeneration.

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Best of Material World Blog: Art

Haidy Geismar, UCL

In this new series of summer posts, we, the editors look back at the past 8 or so years that Material world Blog has been going and curate a series of “best of” themed post. Here, I link to what I consider to be some of the very best postings about art on the site.

In his post Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway Christopher Pinney presents a series of his own technicolour photographs, inspired by Ed Rucha’s 1963 series.

Jonathan Patkowski and Nicole Reiner unpack Alfred Barr’s infamous artist network diagram and unpack the neoliberal logics of the avant-garde as presented in the exhibition “Inventing Abstraction“.

Ryan Schram describes the tensions and identity around the speaker of the Parliament of Papua New Guinea trying to destroy the carvings evoking customary art and identity, made upon independence to decorate the new Parliament House.… Continue Reading

CfP Materialities of Religious Engagement

CfP for papers to be included as part of panel proposal called ‘materialities of religious engagement’ for this year’s British Association for the Study of Religions conference.

Where: This year’s BASR conference will be held at The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

When: 3rd-5th September, 2014.

250 word abstracts may be sent by 16.06.’14

to jaspreet.kaur@wolfson.ox.ac.uk.… Continue Reading

Announcing the Heritage Jam

11th of July 2014 at
the University of York

We’ve just launched a new heritage visualisation project at the University of York & I’m hopeful you might be keen to participate and/or spread the word. Thank you in advance for your interest!

Are you concerned with the way the past is presented? Have you ever worked with (or wished you could work with) art, photos, video, diagrams, websites or other forms of graphic and performance pieces in the context of interpreting the archaeological and heritage records? Are you interested to innovate with the visualisation of history and prehistory?

If so, we invite your participation in The Heritage Jam (www.heritagejam.org), a collaborative global event in heritage visualisation, taking place both online and in-person on the 11th of July 2014 at the University of York.… Continue Reading