Things in culture, cultures in things and lest we forget, all that stuff in between. Objects, artefacts and matter, even sometimes the immaterial, have been comprehensively theorised and contextualised through a number of intriguing case studies. Since the groundbreaking publication of The Social Life of Things in 1986 to the launch of the Journal of Material Culture ten years later, the material world in its cross-cultural, multi-temporal and interdisciplinary study could never quite be the same again. Indeed, the very concern for the effects and affects of the ways in which materiality changes over time is the one that this interdisciplinary conference hosted by the Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory (CECT) seeks to address.
A well known adage in this field of enquiry is that things make people as much people make things. The relationships we develop and share with a tangible arena of artworks, buildings, infra-structures, monuments, relics and everyday objects varies from the remote to the intimate, from the fleeting to the durable, from immediate to mediated, from the passive to the passionate, from the philosophised to the commonsensical. Within the practices of creative processes and their use or non-use of the physical world, things gain meaning and status. They become endowed with agency, symbolism and power. Our journeys through the world of things generate a multitude of emotions: pleasure, attachment, belonging, angst, envy, exclusion, loathing and fear. They also feed into the propagation of on-going myths, narratives and discourses which oscillate between the robust and the ever shifting.
¿ Dr. Elizabeth Crooke (Museum and Heritage Studies, University of Ulster)
"Bullet holes bring reality": The significance of things in the context of the Northern Ireland conflict
¿ Prof. Dr. Ruth-E. Mohrmann (Seminar für Volkskunde/ Europäische Ethnologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)
"Research into the history of material culture"
¿ Prof. Stephen H. Riggins (Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland)
"The natural order is decay: The home as an ephemeral art project"
¿ Dr. Joanna Sofaer (Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton)
"Pots and stories"
(i) Dynamics - Changing of meaning, practices, functions and modality in time and space
(ii) Identity - Ways we relate to and use things
(iii) Methodologies - How we study things