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Writing Material Culture History examines the methodologies currently used in the historical study of material culture. Touching on archaeology, art history, literary studies and anthropology, the book provides history students with a fundamental understanding of the relationship between artefacts and historical narratives. The role of museums, the impact of the digital age and the representations of objects in public history are just some of the issues addressed in a book that brings together key scholars from around the world. A range of artefacts, including a 16th-century Peruvian crown and a 19th-century Alaskan Sea Lion overcoat, are considered, illustrating the myriad ways in which objects and history relate to one another. Bringing together scholars working in a variety of disciplines, this book provides a critical introduction for students interested in material culture, history and historical methodologies.
Writing Material Culture History examines the methodologies currently used in the historical study of material culture. Touching on archaeology, art history, literary studies and anthropology, the book provides history students with a fundamental understanding of the relationship between artefacts and historical narratives. The role of museums, the impact of the digital age and the representations of objects in public history are just some of the issues addressed in a book that brings together key scholars from around the world. A range of artefacts, including a 16th-century Peruvian crown and a 19th-century Alaskan Sea Lion overcoat, are considered, illustrating the myriad ways in which objects and history relate to one another. Bringing together scholars working in a variety of disciplines, this book provides a critical introduction for students interested in material culture, history and historical methodologies.
Sources are the raw material of history, but where the written word has traditionally been seen as the principal source, today historians are increasingly recognizing the value of sources beyond text. In History and Material Culture, Karen Harvey embarks upon a discussion about material culture – considering objects, often those found surrounding us in day to day life, as sources, which can help historians develop new interpretations and new knowledge about the past. Across ten chapters, different historians look at a variety of material sources from around the globe and across centuries to assess how such sources can be used to study history. While the sources are discussed from ‘interdisciplinary’ perspectives, each contributor examines how material culture can be approached from an historical viewpoint, and each chapter addresses its theme or approach in a way accessible to readers without expertise in the area. In her introduction, Karen Harvey discusses some of the key issues raised when historians use material culture, and suggests some basic steps for those new to these kinds of sources. Opening up the discipline of history to new approaches, and introducing those working in other disciplines to historical approaches, this book is the ideal introduction to the opportunities and challenges of researching material culture.
The Global Lives of Things considers the ways in which ‘things’, ranging from commodities to works of art and precious materials, participated in the shaping of global connections in the period 1400-1800. By focusing on the material exchange between Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia, this volume traces the movements of objects through human networks of commerce, colonialism and consumption. It argues that material objects mediated between the forces of global economic exchange and the constantly changing identities of individuals, as they were drawn into global circuits. It proposes a reconceptualization of early modern global history in the light of its material culture by asking the question: what can we learn about the early modern world by studying its objects? This exciting new collection draws together the latest scholarship in the study of material culture and offers students a critique and explanation of the notion of commodity and a reinterpretation of the meaning of exchange. It engages with the concepts of ‘proto-globalization’, ‘the first global age’ and ‘commodities/consumption’. Divided into three parts, the volume considers in Part One, Objects of Global Knowledge, in Part Two, Objects of Global Connections, and finally, in Part Three, Objects of Global Consumption. The collection concludes with afterwords from three of the leading historians in the field, Maxine Berg, Suraiya Faroqhi and Paula Findlen, who offer their critical view of the methodologies and themes considered in the book and place its arguments within the wider field of scholarship. Extensively illustrated, and with chapters examining case studies from Northern Europe to China and Australia, this book will be essential reading for students of global history.
"In his interdisciplinary review of material culture, Ian Woodward goes beyond synthesis to offer a theoretically innovative reconstruction of the field. It is filled with gems of conceptual insight and empirical discovery. A wonderful book." - Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University "A well-grounded and accessible survey of the burgeoning field of material culture studies for students in sociology and consumption studies. While situating the field within the history of intellectual thought in the broader social sciences, it offers detailed and accessible case studies. These are supplemented by very useful directions for further in-depth reading, making it an excellent undergraduate course companion." - Victor Buchli, University College London Why are i-pods and mobile phones fashion accessories? Why do people spend thousands remodelling their perfectly functional kitchen? Why do people crave shoes or handbags? Is our desire for objects unhealthy, or irrational? Objects have an inescapable hold over us, not just in consumer culture but increasingly in the disciplines that study social relations too. This book offers a systematic overview of the diverse ways of studying the material as culture. Surveying the field of material culture studies through an examination and synthesis of classical and contemporary scholarship on objects, commodities, consumption, and symbolization, this book: introduces the key concepts and approaches in the study of objects and their meanings presents the full sweep of core theory - from Marxist and critical approaches to structuralism and semiotics shows how and why people use objects to perform identity, achieve social status, and narrativize life experiences analyzes everyday domains in which objects are important shows why studying material culture is necessary for understanding the social. This book will be essential reading for students and researchers in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, consumer behaviour studies, design and fashion studies.
History from Things explores the many ways objects - defined broadly to range from Chippendale tables and Italian Renaissance pottery to seventeenth-century parks and a New England cemetery - can reconstruct and help to reinterpret the past. Eighteen essays describe how to "read" artifacts, how to "listen to" landscapes and locations, and how to apply methods and theories to historical inquiry that have previously belonged solely to archaeologists, anthropologists, art historians, and conservation scientists. The contributors demonstrate that artifacts can be prime historical evidence that discloses important facts about the nature of past cultures. The book shows how, for example, the detailed examination of Chinese Zhou bronzes revealed that a factory system of production - nowhere attested to in documentary sources - existed in China as early as the fifth century B.C.
Written by an international team of experts, the Handbook makes accessible a full range of theoretical and applied approaches to the study of material culture, and the place of materiality in social theory, presenting current thinking about material culture from the fields of archaeology, anthropology, geography, and science and technology studies.

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