P06
Hot property: the historical agency of things

Convenors:
Jeffrey Sissons (Victoria University, Wellington)
Location:
J
Start time:
9 December, 2008 at 13:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Presenters in this panel are invited to consider ways in which material culture has participated in social transformation, particularly radical transformation in colonial and post-colonial contexts.

Long abstract:

Presenters in this panel are invited to consider ways in which material culture has participated in social transformation, particularly radical transformation. Focussing on colonial and post-colonial contexts, participants are invited to consider ways in which social change has been (or is being) initiated, organised and pursued in, through and around forms of material culture. Influenced by Gell's phenomenological approach, especially in Art and Agency, recent anthropological work has taken seriously the notion that objects might have agency in an abstract sense. However, participants in this panel are encouraged to consider instead the historical agency of things - the ways in which things have re-materialised social relations and fields. Colonial re-materializations of society have entailed: the participation of clothing, houses and churches in Christianization; the participation of muskets, alcohol and commodities in transformations of hierarchy and gender; the participation of art objects in post-colonial indigeneity. Material culture has assumed historical agency not only in relation to the social conditions of its production, consumption and distribution but also through its destruction. Papers on colonial iconoclasm - the creative destruction of material culture - are therefore also encouraged.