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Materiality as an Agency of Knowledge

Competing Forms of Knowledge in Rachel’s Tomb in Tiberias

Nimrod Luz

Materiality has become a compelling register through which to examine religious manifestations and matters of belief. There is a mounting awareness among scholars of both the tangible aspects of religion and the ways in which material objects are never neutral. Following these theoretical developments, I argue that materiality can serve as a form of agency for a particular version of knowledge to become conventional and accepted as true. This emerging materiality codifies a certain version of the truth. However, such validation through matter is often challenged and categorized as fake or a myth. To illustrate my argument, I explore the newly emerging site of Rachel’s Tomb in Tiberias and the competing versions of truth surrounding it. I contend that its new materiality, which has evolved in recent years, serves as a way of validating the site’s new mythology. However, among locals, who are familiar with the site’s previous materiality, this new knowledge is pejoratively labeled as fake or mythical.

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The Postwar Schoolbook as a Material Artifact

Two Greek Reading Textbooks from 1944

Niki Sioki

In contrast to the countries of Western Europe, the end of the Second World War did not bring political restoration, economic recovery, or the emergence of a new social order to Greece. Subscribing to the view that the material form of books and their typography convey meaning, this article presents a comparative study of the design and production of a reading primer and a third-year reading textbook, both of which were published in a climate of political and social disorder. Drawing on surviving copies of the books, educational laws, teachers’ recollections, and archival material, this article examines the ways in which the sociopolitical environment and technological conditions of a publication affect the ways in which texts are shaped into book form.

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Sonia Hazard

Material things and phenomena have come to vie with belief and thought as worthy subjects of inquiry in the interdisciplinary study of religion. Yet, to the extent that we are justified in speaking of a “material turn”, no consensus has arisen about what materiality is or does. This article offers a preliminary sketch of the diverse terrain of material religion studies, delineating three dominant approaches to religious materiality as well as an emerging alternative. It argues that the dominant approaches—respectively characterized by an emphasis on symbolism, material disciplines, and phenomenological experience—continue to privilege the human subject while material things themselves struggle to come into sharp focus. That is, they remain anthropocentric and beholden to the biases against materiality deeply entrenched in the study of religion. Such biases may be negotiated more successfully via the emerging alternative “new materialism”.

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Diana Espírito Santo

which there are thousands. It is, by all accounts, an instrumentalist ritual complex (of which there are several branches) that aims at the perpetual construction and preservation of a kind of self-system, one that encompasses material, mineral, animal

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Material Proximity

Experimenting with Material Strategies in Spatial Exhibition Design

Ane Pilegaard

A museum exhibition allows for close encounters with material objects. However, the distancing effect of the glass surfaces of display cases, as well as twodimensional text and picture panels, often seems to counteract the visitor’s sense of experiencing the three-dimensional material qualities of museum objects. In order to challenge this distancing effect, this article proposes an approach to spatial exhibition design that takes material aspects of both museum objects and exhibition design practices into close consideration. By developing the concept of material proximity, the article investigates the intimate space between museum object and visitor in which the object’s material qualities can be activated and interpreted. Based on an interdisciplinary bridging between different concepts of materiality from museum studies and architecture, the article concretizes the concept of material proximity through empirical analysis of a series of experimental display designs carried out at Medical Museion (the medical museum of the University of Copenhagen).

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Afterword

Dangerous Mobilities

Mimi Sheller

seemingly solid things like buildings move, and as Gail Adams-Hutcheson brings out, entangle us in “vibrant materialities.” Humans also face other dangers, associated with our bodily needs for breathable air, clean water, and warmth, each increasingly

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Kate Pride Brown

be unrelated to the actual physical characteristics of the environment ( Kyle and Chick 2007 ). A wide literature has grown around the social construction of landscape, nature and place (cf. Stokowski 2002 ). However, nature has materiality that

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Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder

cannot be accounted for by discourse alone. The resulting discursive-material dynamics generate persuasive formations of power to which we could become more attuned through thoughtful research and action in autonomous vehicle development. In what follows

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Infrastructures of progress and dispossession

Collective responses to shrinking water access among farmers in Arequipa, Peru

Astrid Oberborbeck Andersen

occurring elsewhere ( GDAT 2012 ; Heynen et al. 2007 ). Well aware of the danger of singularizing the understanding of global and local processes, I use the term “neoliberal urban ecology” to qualify the way socio-economical, political, and material

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What Is Money?

A Definition Beyond Materiality and Quantity

Emanuel Seitz

This article takes seriously this special issue’s claim that money’s quantity is material. Three questions, however, arise at once. First, what is money? Second, is quantity an essential property of money? Third, is materiality an essential property