Itineraries of the Material
Sponsored by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 6:00pm to Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 2:00pm

Campus Westend, I.G.-Building
Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main 60323

Itineraries of the Material. Shifting Contexts of Value and Things in Time and Space

Objects are characterised by temporal continuity, embodying a prior existence with lingering affects. This continuity is in perpetual flux, leaving visible traces of the object’s age, usage, and previous life. While travelling through time, objects also circulate through space, and their spatial mobility alters their meaning and use with respect to their new cultural horizons. As objects transform through time and space, so does the value attributed to them. Mapping out the itineraries of value in the realm of the material allows us to grasp both the nature of a given social formation – through the shape and meaning taken on by its valued stuff; and the nature of the material – through the value ascribed to objects at a given point in time and space. This conference will bring together studies of material culture, materiality and value with regard to the mobility of objects, with the aim of tracing the ways in which societies constitute their valued objects and the realm of the material reflects upon society.

a) Movement across time and space:

This panel will address the transformation of objects and their meaning and value in the framework of new cultural contexts. Avoiding a misleading notion of “territorial boundaries” of cultures, it will explore the itineraries of objects as a fluid process with emergent meanings, and seek to trace out these meanings through their spatio-temporal contextualization.

b) Movement across social divides:

This panel will address objects that are instrumental in constituting social roles and rankings of individuals or groups, as well as promoting or obstructing social mobility. It will also discuss transformations in the social status of objects themselves, as when prestigious things become everyday gadgets, or when mundane stuff acquires novel importance.

c) Movement across spheres of meaning:

This panel will address the transition of objects from the secular to the religious sphere – or vice versa –, practical and symbolic meanings, or innerworldly and otherworldly existence. It will explore how objects are altered through transgression of semiotic boundaries and transcendence of established spheres.

Please visite our website for the programme of the conference.

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