Tag Archives: circulation

CFP: “Threads of Circulation”

Ohio State University, Department of History of Art

Columbus, OH, April 11 - 12, 2014

Proposals due: January 17, 2014 (extended deadline)

This conference seeks papers that address and examine the shifting 
trajectories and connected histories of individual objects and
 ideologies across time and space. Over the last decade, there has been 
increased interest in network culture in ancient cultures, the early
 modern world, and postmodern globalization. This conference will focus 
on the ways in which material culture – singular artworks, objects, and 
technologies – reveals what Sanjay Subrahmanyam proposes as “the at
 times fragile threads that connect the globe.” In paying particular
 attention to perhaps paradoxical heterogeneity and following the
“fragile threads” of memory, history, and culture, this conference 
confronts and questions historical and cultural transmission across 
time and space.

Continue reading

The Unbearable Lightness of Things


By Marta Vilar Rosales

Centre for Research in Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, UNL, Portugal

The project “Atlantic Crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belonging” is a quest to follow the objects in particular, and “things” in general. From surveys in Lisbon, Oporto, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to ethnographies of transnational families spanning these contexts, the project will unpack the lived experiences of Brazilians and Portuguese circulating between their respective home countries. The goal is to understand the difference materiality makes in dynamics of international mobility. Instead of asking “what’s in a name”, we ask “what about what’s in a suitcase?” And, for that matter, what’s in the packages sent from home? What will be bought with remittances money? What will be acquired and fashioned to decorate one’s new home? In short, the project explores how “things” can frame, organize and produce social reality in the specific context of international mobility.

The routes, temporalities and patterns underlying the traffic and appropriation of objects compose the lens from which to take a fresh look at the lives of the people in question. The moment in time is of the essence, as clearly reflected by the coverage of the flows of people and capital connecting both countries in their respective national media. The current economic crisis, and subsequent soaring unemployment rates in Portugal, hit the most qualified population the country has ever had. In turn, Brazil attracts attention because it has been emerging as an economic player that is looking to enhance the labour market through recruitment of specialized workers. Furthermore, it will be holding main sports events in the next few years (namely, the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2015), which promise work opportunities. The story, however, is not that simple. Massive protests concerning, in part, these very sports’ events have recently startled policy makers and have been ushered the world to pay attention. Moving across the Atlantic to try one’s chances in a rather hermetic labour market is also not the most affordable option either. Some Portuguese are indeed managing to get their qualifications recognized. They are the ones feeding the narratives of successful emigration both through interpersonal social networks and through “Portuguese across the World” -like shows in mainstream media.

Yet, in truth, little is known about Portuguese abroad since the country became an immigration context in the late 70s – researchers focused on the transformations taking place within borders. It is still unclear how the current moment features in the long-standing, inter-connected histories linking the two Portuguese-speaking countries. How the post-colonial relationship re-articulated in the 21st century? More concretely: what consumption habits change when Portuguese engineers, architects and managers have to cope with living in extremely expensive cities? What do unemployed construction and domestic services’ workers who reach their limit bring home when s/he wants to impress friends and family (and keep some of Europe with him/her) but there is little s/he can afford? What business strategies do entrepreneurial Brazilian beauticians take in order to endure the crisis and keep alluring customers to strive for a Brazilian-like body? How do the material surroundings of Portuguese men who find themselves in the small hometowns of their Brazilian wives, whom they met in Portugal, change their view of Brazil – and of their own life-projects? How do the Portuguese wives who travel on the work visas of their husbands reinvent their daily routines, and the rules of conduct they teach their children, in cities that are often talked about as very dangerous in Portugal? We’re counting on “things” to tell the stories.

Becoming Exotic

Notes on the Workshop  “Objects from Abroad: The Life of Exotic Goods in France and the United States”

by  Noémie Étienne  (Wissenschaftliche Assistentin, Univ. of Zurich)

Fig. 1. Eugène Boban’s importation and exchanges network, between 1870 and 1890. © Manuel Charpy.

Fig. 1. Eugène Boban’s importation and exchanges network, between 1870 and 1890. © Manuel Charpy.

The interdisciplinary conference “Objects from Abroad: The Life of Exotic Goods in France and the United States”, held at the Centre for International Research in the Humanities, New York University, in April 2013, addressed the question of the lives of exotic objects in the United States and France between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. Within this context, the focus was on Western use, display and function of objects coming from “abroad”: in other words, on the consumption of material culture according to the expression used by Ann Bermingham.[1] This conference’s emphasis on travelling objects prompted us to broaden Bermingham’s notion to “cross-cultural” consumption. With this expression we had in mind the way certain objects made in a specific cultural context, generally non-Western, did indeed take a new turn in their lives by stepping into another location in Paris or New York (fig. 1). This, in turn, raised questions such as: what are the specific implications of a cross-cultural perspective? What kind of impact does the movement from one culture to another have on artefacts, and vice versa? The conference demonstrated that consumption of culture in a cross-cultural context is not only an economic transaction but also a process of translation and appropriation. Here consumption is understood as part of a creative process, which transforms the objects as well as their new contexts.

Continue reading

CFP: Australian Anthropological Society Conference 2013

Australian Anthropological Society Annual Conference 2013 

Theme: The Human in the World, the World in the Human

Australian National University
6-8 November 2013

The theme of this conference embraces anthropology’s enduring commitments to grappling with the human condition in the widest terms. Yet it also directs attention to the ways in which the interrelated concepts, ‘human’ and ‘world’, receive critical disciplinary attention in the present. While anthropologists have always been interested in how particular environmental, social or political worlds shape and are shaped by human existence, the theme attends to the urgency that such questions take at a time when the limits and potentialities of what ‘human’ and ‘world’ mean are subject to searching re-examination. Climate change, developments in bio-technology, securitization and supply-chain capitalism, and processes of forced and voluntary migration are among an array of issues that challenge and stimulate the conceptual and ethnographic work of anthropologists in the present.

The theme also draws attention to how particularly located humans engage in projects of “worlding”, attempting to stake claims for the relevance of their own understandings, practices and commitments in contexts shaped by both human and non-human agents. How do humans get drawn into, adapt to and adopt in their own way worldly projects that originate from afar? What kinds of oppressions and freedoms are involved in these processes? Shifting global circumstances usher these questions into the anthropological domain, where they are dealt with from a multitude of perspectives, including anthropologies of globalization, media, religion and the environment, existential anthropology and economic anthropology, theories of network and meshwork and theories of political economy. We invite participation from any and all concerned with imagining the shape of the world and the place of the human in relation to it.

Instructions for the submission of individual paper abstracts: If you are interested in presenting a paper on any of the panel themes below, please contact the individual listed panel convenors directly. Send the panel convenor your paper title and abstract (maximum 250 words), along with your email address and institutional affiliation. Do NOT submit your paper abstracts to the conference organisers. The deadline for submission of paper proposals is 1 August 2013.

Conference panels of interest to readers of the Material World Blog may include the following:

Continue reading

CFP: IU/OSU Student Conference: Publics and Networks: Discourse, Circulation, and Power

March 1 – 2, 2013; Indiana University, Bloomington

The 6th annual collaborative conference between The Ohio State University Folklore Student Association and the Folklore & Ethnomusicology Student Associations at Indiana University aims to create a space for graduate and undergraduate students to share their research in folklore, ethnomusicology, cultural studies, material culture, performance studies, and related disciplines connected to the study of academic and vernacular interpretations of everyday life.

In “Publics and Counterpublics” (2002), literary critic and social theorist Michael Warner describes a public as “a space of discourse organized by nothing other than discourse itself” (50). Publics therefore are “only realized through active uptake” (60) as individuals, communities, and institutions generate, sustain, and transform discourse through various expressive forms (material, textual, kinesthetic, etc.). Folklorists and ethnomusicologists have long been interested in communities of circulation and this year’s theme will reflect back upon and build from these histories of inquiry.

Abstracts must be submitted by Friday, January 11, 2013.

Continue reading

CFP: Objects From Abroad in 18th-20th Centuries (New York, 25 Apr 13)

Objects From Abroad. The Life of Exotic Goods in France and the United States (18th-20th Centuries)

25th April 2012

CNRS NYU Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Transitions UMI 3199, 4 Washington Square North, New York, New York, 10003,

Deadline for abstracts : Dec 31, 2012

The development of material studies and consumption studies, of
anthropology of the material world and the material culture of art
history shows growing interest for the material dimension of pictures
and goods. This perspective calls attention to the physical and social
life of things. In this sense, our conference looks to analyse the
production of goods and their transformation, in connection with their
various uses and contexts. A historiography focusing on the
construction of international spaces and exchanges through the
movements of things, goods, merchandises and artworks is currently on
its way.

This conference would like to concentrate on the goods imported in
France and the United States between the 18th and the 20th century, and
their existence within their new environment: business or tourist
trips, where the exotic objects were collected and gathered in private
spaces; scientific expeditions, where “anthropological” artefacts were
collected for Western museums. What kind of things and goods were
brought back to New York City, Paris, and the other American and French
cities – and through cities of many countries – between the 18th and
the 20th century? How were they exhibited, put on display, but also
converted and updated? We wish to interrogate the life and “career” of
goods, their collection and their circulation, as well as the way in
which goods acted upon reception societies. What was the impact of
these objects on ways to consume, to live, to dress, to create? What
about the processes of translation and interpretation that accompanies
such uses and appropriation?

Continue reading