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).
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/
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.
The Anthropology department at UCL (University College London) is pleased to announce the Mary Douglas Awards, to students applying for Master’s programmes for entry in September 2013. These fee waivers, worth between £2000 -£ 4000 pounds will be awarded based on the merit of individual applications.
There are three exciting and complementary Masters programmes for students interested in objects, art, museums, digital technologies and media, follow the respective links for details regarding how to apply:
MA Material & Visual Culture: for object-focused cultural explorations, visual culture, consumption, and heritage
MSc Digital Anthropology: exploring the role of the digital in social life in cross-cultural perspective
MA Culture.Materials.Design: for design anthropology, the new anthropology of materials, and the anthropology of making
Rebecca Martinezs Photos of Lifelike Baby Dolls at NYTimes.com.
[Ed note: This is Material World Blog's 1000'th post!]
I’ve been thinking about novels that have something profound to contribute to Material Culture Studies having just read Peter Carey’s The Chemistry of Tears which is a remarkable instantiation of the affective entanglement of techniques, materials, and emotion.
A bare overview: the story focuses around Catherine Gehrig, a bereaved horologist, whose secret lover (a colleague at a fictitious London museum) has suddenly died. Her boss, in an attempt to help her suffering, gives her several boxes to work on: the contents of which need to be conserved and put back together. The boxes contain a dismantled automata made in the 19th century in Germany. A number of notebooks accompany the object and stealing them to read at home she enters the world of Henry Brandling, recently bereaved of a young child himself, and desperate to prevent the death of his ailing son. Brandling travels to Bavaria to commission the production of a copy of Vaucheron’s shitting duck, convinced that the majesty of the automata might contain a form of healing power. He encounters an eccentric giant of a clockmaker, who seems to him to be stark raving mad, and who with his angelic apprentice, makes not a duck, but a wonderful metal swan swimming on a glass lake, swallowing silver fish. Reading alongside Catherine the curator in the present day, is her own eccentric assistant who is in a relationship with Catherine’s dead lover’s son and who also becomes obsessed with the potential of the automata to contain the power over life and death. Catherine is distraught, self medicates with alcohol and booze, yet for much of the book she engaged in the quiet technical practice of conservation, observation and research. Similarly, the disquiet and personal dramas of all of the other characters are both stayed and channelled by the majestic automaton. The story is complex, told in interweaving parallel narratives each with a specific focus on place, technical processes of engineering and conservation, and personal drama, the combination of which overly the metaphysical nature of the book as a whole.
The book is fundamentally, for me anyway, about replication. As the magical swan (and the other automata) replicate animals, they also replicate human minds (a slippage in the word computers which in Brandling’s time referred to a person undertaking numerical calculation). Catherine’s therapy of putting this machine back together is replicated in reverse by the mental breakdown of her assistant, whose own relationship with Catherine’s lover’s son mirrors or replicates that of her mentor. The machines are put together as they decompose their makers.
At the Bard Graduate Center, New York City, July 1-26, 2013
Objects matter. Material culture scholars use artifactual evidence such as consumer goods, architecture, clothing, landscape, decorative arts, and many other types of material.
The Bard Graduate Center will host a four-week NEH Summer Institute on American Material Culture. The institute will focus on the material culture of nineteenth century and use New York as its case study because of its role as a national center for fashioning cultural commodities and promoting consumer tastes. We will study significant texts in the scholarship of material culture together as well as in tandem with visiting some of the wonderful collections in and around New York City for our hands-on work with artifacts. The city will be our laboratory to explore some of the important issues of broad impact that go well beyond New York.
We welcome applications from faculty and others with some experience doing object-based work, as well as those who have never taught or studied material culture. Application materials and other information about content, stipends, housing, etc. is available at bgc.bard.edu/neh-
Bard Graduate Center
Pitt Rivers Museum & Keble College
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
19th – 21st July 2013
Ethnographic museums have a long and distinguished history but they have also been the subject of criticism and complaint. During the second half of the twentieth century they therefore underwent something of an identity crisis. More recently however, many of these institutions have been remodeled or rethought and visitor numbers have only increased. This conference seeks to analyze these shifts and to ask what the remit of an ethnographic museum should be in the twenty first century. Keynote lecturer: Prof. James Clifford. Other distinguished speakers include: Ruth Phillips, Sharon Macdonald, Wayne Modest, Corinne Kratz, Kavita Singh, Annie Coombes and Nicholas Thomas. Join us for lectures, debate and a series of art and music events in the unique environment of the Pitt Rivers Museum. For more information visit here:
The Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association wishes to encourage participation in the 2013 Annual Meeting: “Beyond the Logic of Debt: Towards an Ethic of Collective Dissent,” November 21-24, 2013 at the Hilton Washington, Washington, DC. To read the conference Call for Papers please see: www.theasa.net/annual_
Ideas and Abstracts due to the organizers before January 5, 2013.
Areas of interest for material culture studies related to the theme include (but are not limited to):
· Consumerism, including credit, layaway, second-hand shopping
· Money, credit, mortgages, loans, and other forms of currency
· Banks, banking, and the architecture and culture of financial
· Objects/Spaces of poverty and luxury
· Occupy and other movements of dissent against debt or property
· Exhibitions or representations of debt
· Spaces and material culture of academic debt and employment