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Air in Unexpected Places

Metabolism, Design, and the Making of an ‘African’ Aircrete

Michael Degani

ethnographic narrative of what, for me, has emerged as a ‘fresh source of imagination’ at a key ‘frontline of planetary transformation’: an unconventional and environmentally friendly building material known as aircrete. Aircrete (sometimes called cellular

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Cementing Relations

The Materiality of Roads and Public Spaces in Provincial Peru

Penelope Harvey

This article sets out to analyze how concrete is implicated in the transformation of public space in provincial Peru. While concrete enhances a state's capacity to produce reliable, predictable structures, there are also significant limits in relation to its connective capacity in both the material and social domains. Ethnographic attention to the relational dynamics of concrete reveals how its promise to operate as a generic, homogeneous, and above all predictable material is constantly challenged by the instability and heterogeneity of the terrains to which it is applied. The image of power that concrete affords is thus a compromised one, as the stability and predictability of this substance is secure only insofar as it is surrounded by and embedded in specific relationships of care.

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Materiality as an Agency of Knowledge

Competing Forms of Knowledge in Rachel's Tomb in Tiberias

Nimrod Luz

that against the current flux and uncertainty of what counts as truth, we need to take materiality more seriously in our ethnography of pilgrimage sites. Further, complementing previous understandings that have emphasized sacred texts as sufficient

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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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Theodore Schatzki

An important issue in contemporary social theory is how social thought can systematically take materiality into account. This article suggests that one way social theory can do so is by working with an ontology that treats materiality as part of society. The article presents one such ontology, according to which social phenomena consist in nexuses of human practices and material arrangements. This ontology (1) recognizes three ways materiality is part of social phenomena, (2) holds that most social phenomena are intercalated constellations of practices, technology, and materiality, and (3) opens up consideration of relations between practices and material arrangements. A brief practice-material history of the Kentucky Bluegrass region where the author resides illustrates the idea that social phenomena evince changing material configurations over time.

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Laurie Kain Hart

effects made visible in the material-infrastructural world. The presence of scores of abandoned but architecturally impressive buildings in the border zone landscape of the Prespa Lakes in northwest Greek Macedonia puzzled me on my first visit in 1993. The

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Jillian Schwedler

through control of material space? How have other changes to the built environment inadvertently constrained or limited possibilities for protests? Building on the existing scholarship on protest and public space, this article aims to articulate the

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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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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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Stefan Böschen, Jochen Gläser, Martin Meister, and Cornelius Schubert

Recent years have seen an increasing interest in materiality in social research. Some might say that materiality is now back on the agenda of social research. The challenges of bringing materiality back have spurred lively debates about material agency, most of which, however, are leveled at the largely dematerialized theories of the social in the social sciences, for example, in material culture studies (Appadurai 1986; Miller 1998) as well as science and technology studies (Latour 1988; Law/Mol 1995). Since the turn of the century, a marked shift towards the material has emerged (cf. Hicks 2010), ranging from questions concerning nature (Grundmann/Stehr 2000) and everyday objects (Molotch 2003; Costall/Dreier 2006; Miller 2010) to issues of cultural theory (Reckwitz 2002), post-phenomenology (Verbeek 2005), ethnography (Henare et al. 2007), distributed cognition (Hutchins 1995), and materiality in general (Dant 2005; Miller 2005; Knappett/Malafouris 2008). A perspective on materiality is now being developed in diverse fields such as archaeology (Meskell 2005), economic sociology (Pinch/Swedberg 2008), political science (Bennett 2010; Coole/Frost 2010), and organization studies (Carlile et al. 2013). Yet the status of the material remains debated in the evolving fields of various “new” materialisms (cf. Lemke 2015).