Stuff & Things. Disintegrating into Immateriality?

Journée d’étude organisée dans le cadre du Partner University Fund Nanterre-Chicago

Organisateurs : Isabelle Rivoal (Lesc) & Rémi Hadad (Préhistoire et Technologies)

Mardi 4 décembre 2012, 9h30 – 17h

MAE, salle du Conseil (4e étage)

Voir le programme

The PUF program, organized between the University of Chicago and Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre, has dedicated its third and final year to an ongoing discussion of material culture. Both Anglophone approaches to “materiality” and Francophone approaches to “techniques” have in recent years expanded their discussions to include an increasingly wide range of topics. Danny Miller’s “Stuff” and Birgit Meyer’s “Things” are but two examples of the productive expansion of the concept of materiality into previously ignored domains. In the same manner, the return to a Maussian conception of technique permits its extension into domains in which it is not commonly applied, such as ritual or the construction of the subject.  In these works we see concretely what can be gained from an ethnography of material broadly defined and including the unexpected.  Yet what do we stand to lose from a dilution of this category?

As more and more disciplines join this discussion, what are the limits to materiality conceptually and across disciplines?  Do these terms retain any boundedness or theoretical heft as the discourse framing them expands almost infinitely? How much utility as categories of analysis do terms like “materiality,” “material culture,” or “techniques” still possess? What is lost by expanding the study of material culture into disciplines once unconcerned with “stuff and things” (such as Religious Studies, Literary Theory, History, Philosophy).  What is lost when the existing discussion of material culture is expanded to include “stuff and things” no longer part of the material world?

 Les communications se dérouleront en français. Les discussions en français et anglais

Carine Constans

Responsable de communication de la MAE

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