Material culture – anthropological approaches

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EIS706 Material culture – anthropological approaches

Professor: Cleo GOUGOULIS | Course outline [pdf file]

The course outlines the various theoretical approaches to material culture by the social sciences and the humanities with an emphasis on anthropological and folklorist approaches from the 19th century to the present. A central concern of the course is the exploration of the ways in which the material world is linked to the production, reproduction and challenging of extant relations of power in the context of marxist, structuralist, poststructuralist and phenomenological theories implemented in ethnographies of space and landscape, the house, museums and technology. Further emphasis is laid on the analysis of contemporary commodities as cultural objects and the importance of methodological approaches, such as the cultural biography of things and multi-sited ethnography, in the context of theoretical approaches to globalization.

The course aims to help students understand the various ways in which people are enmeshed in the material world and the contribution of things to the development of social relationships, values and identities. It further aims to familiarize students with the management, documentation and critical analysis of ethnographic museum collections and exhibitions.

After the completion of the course students are expected:

  • To have mastered classic and recent theoretical and methodological approaches to material culture.
  • To be able to conduct individual research or collaborate with other students on small or medium scale research projects and the documentation of ethnographic objects.
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