Accepted paper:

This is not only an old pipe, or notes for an epistemological acceptance of remnant objects


Alexandre Pólvora (European Commission)

Paper short abstract:

In worlds already packed with views on daily material cultures, there are still resistances to an epistemological recognition of residual obsolete objects. This presentation follows an alternative phenomenological trail to such resistances, from a critique of their grounds, to renewed proposals.

Paper long abstract:

Within worlds already filled with multiple views on material items as being legitimate bricks to build social knowledge, there are still multiple oppositions to the epistemological acceptance of an extended class of objects, typically deemed as merely residual. Shabby clothes, outdated appliances, bitten lighters, broken toys and analogous, are often minimized or put aside through this reasoning inside the analytical platforms of our modern material studies. Most likely considered as obsolete evidences in some kind of evolutionary constructivist schemes, or judged as past quotidian tokens better fitted within museological or archaeological disciplines, they are overlooked in our debates on present times. However, just because these objects were probably discarded at the end of operational life cycles, or after biographical rites of passage, aesthetic structural changes, etc, we should never judge them as nullified things. Some still exist or resist through the circulation or accumulation processes that nourish places like thrift stores, junkyards, attics, flea markets, etc, and need to be acknowledged as such, like any other daily object within our material social studies. For example, a lack of continuous human interactions or the unavailability of functioning modes should never stop our efforts in this sense. In their physical matters we may always find values or politics, and even a few paths for technical reappropriations and their consequences. This presentation will follow such trail through ethnographic phenomenologies supported by the conceptual references of authors like Arendt, Lefebvre, Certeau, Winner, Beaune, Dagognet, Strasser, Scanlan and others.

panel P118
Objects, domestic routines and the making of everyday life