Exploring Materiality and Connectivity in Anthropology and Beyond

Edited by Philipp Schorch, Martin Saxer, and Marlen Elders

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ISBN: 9781787357495

Publication: January 01, 2020

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Exploring Materiality and Connectivity in Anthropology and Beyond provides a new look at the old anthropological concern with materiality and connectivity. It understands materiality not as defined property of some-thing, nor does it take connectivity as merely a relation between discrete entities. Somewhat akin to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, it sees materiality and connectivity as two interrelated modes in which an entity is, or more precisely – is becoming, in the world. The question, thus, is how these two modes of becoming relate and fold into each other.

Throughout the four-year research process that led to this book, the authors approached this question not just from a theoretical perspective; taking the suggestion of 'thinking through things' literally and methodologically seriously, the first two workshops were dedicated to practical, hands-on exercises working with things. From these workshops a series of installations emerged, straddling the boundaries of art and academia. These installations served as artistic-academic interventions during the final symposium and are featured alongside the other academic contributions to this volume. Throughout this process, two main themes emerged and structure Part II, Movement and Growth, and Part III, Dissolution and Traces, of the present volume, respectively. Part I, Conceptual Grounds, consists of two chapters offering conceptual takes on things and ties – one from anthropology and one from archaeology.

As interrelated modes of becoming, materiality and connectivity make it necessary to coalesce things and ties into thing~ties – an insight toward which the chapters and interventions came from different sides, and one in which the initial proposition of the editors still shines through. Throughout the pages of this volume, we invite the reader to travel beyond imaginaries of a universe of separate planets united by connections, and to venture with us instead into the thicket of thing~ties in which we live.

Marlen Elders completed her MA in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the LMU Munich with a thesis on exploring aesthetics and sensory perception. In examining a campsite as an assemblage of force fields, affects and materialities, she experimented with creative research methods, aiming to explore new forms of ethnographic presentation. In 2017 she worked on an exhibition on Munich’s environmental (hi)stories at the Rachel Carson Center.

Martin Saxer was a Clarendon scholar at Oxford and received his doctorate in 2010. He conducted extensive fieldwork in Siberia, Tibet, and Nepal since 2003. Currently, he is leading a 5-year research project at LMU Munich under the title Remoteness & Connectivity: Highland Asia in the World, funded by the European Research Council. He also directed two feature length documentary films and is running a visual ethnography blog.

Philipp Schorch is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at LMU Munich, Research Associate at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK, and Honorary Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Australia. Philipp’s research focusses on museums, material culture/history/theory, contemporary art and (post)colonial histories, the Pacific and Europe, and collaborations with Indigenous artists/curators/scholars. He received his PhD from Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Introduction: Materiality and Connectivity

Martin Saxer and Philipp Schorch

Part 1    Conceptual Grounds

1. In the Gathering Shadows of Material Things

Tim Ingold

2. Doing/Changing Things/Us

Philipp W. Stockhammer

Part 2    Movement and Growth

3. Becoming Imperial: The Politicisation of the Gift in Atlantic Africa

Julia Binter

4. How Pilgrimage Souvenirs Turn to Religious Remittances and Powerful Medicines

Catrien Notermans and Jean Kommers

5. Invocating the Gods or the Apotheosis of the Barbie Doll

Natalie Göltenboth

6. Stallions of the Indian Ocean

Srinivas Reddy

7. Labelling, Packaging, Scanning: Paths and Diversions of Mobile Phones in the Andes

Juliane Müller

8. Establishing Intimacy through Mobile Phone Connections

Anna-Maria Walter               

Part 3    Dissolution and Traces

9. Smoky Relations: Beyond Dichotomies of Substance on the Tibetan Plateau

Gillian G. Tan

10. What Remains: The Things that Fall to the Side of Everyday Life

Marc Higgin

11. Apocalyptic Sublimes and the Recalibration of Distance: Doing Art-Anthropology in Post-Disaster Japan

Jennifer Clarke

12. Towards a Fragmented Ethnography? Walking Along Debris in Armero, Colombia

Lorenzo Granada

13. Remembering and Non-Remembering Among the Yanomami

Gabriele Herzog-Schröder

14. The Matter of Erasure: Making Room for Utopia at Nonoalco-Tlatelolco, Mexico City

Adam Kaasa

15. Refugee Life Jackets Thrown Off but Not Away: Connecting Materialities in Upcycling Initiatives

Elia Petridou

16. Tamga Tash: A Tale of Stones, Stories, and Travelling Immobiles

Lisa Francesca Rail


Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

282 Pages

41 colour illustrations Illustrations

41 colour illustrations

Copyright: © 2020

ISBN: 9781787357495

Publication: January 01, 2020

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