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Handbook of Material Culture

Handbook of Material Culture

First Edition
Edited by:

January 2006 | 576 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The study of material culture is concerned with the relationship between persons and things in the past and in the present, in urban and industrialized and in small-scale societies across the globe. The Handbook of Material Culture provides a critical survey of the theories, concepts, intellectual debates, substantive domains, and traditions of study characterizing the analysis of "things." This cutting-edge work examines the current state of material culture as well as how this field of study may be extended and developed in the future.

The Handbook of Material Culture is divided into five sections:

  • Section I maps material culture studies as a theoretical and conceptual field.
  • Section II examines the relationship between material forms, the human body and the senses.
  • Section III focuses on subject-object relations.
  • Section IV considers things in terms of processes and transformations in terms of production, exchange and consumption, performance and the significance of things over the long-term.
  • Section V considers the contemporary politics and poetics of displaying, representing and conserving material and the manner in which this impacts on notions of heritage, tradition and identity.

The Handbook charts an interdisciplinary field of studies that makes a unique and fundamental contribution to an understanding of what it means to be human. It will be of interest to all who work in the social and historical sciences, from anthropologists and archaeologists to human geographers to scholars working in heritage, design and cultural studies.

Bill Maurer
In the Matter of Marxism
Robert Layton
Structuralism and Semiotics
Julian Thomas
Phenomenology and Material Culture
Christopher Tilley
Janet Hoskins
Agency, Biography and Objects
Bjørnar Olsen
Scenes from a Troubled Engagement
Post-structuralism and Material Culture Studies

Peter van Dommelen
Colonial Matters
Material Culture and Postcolonial Theory in Colonial Situations

Christopher Pinney
Four Types of Visual Culture
Judith Farquar
Food, Eating, and the Good Life
David Howes
Scent, Sound and Synaesthesia
Intersensuality and Material Culture

Diana Young
The Colours of Things
Jean-Pierre Warnier
Inside and Outside
Surfaces and Containers

Jane Schneider
Cloth and Clothing
Robert St George
Home Furnishing and Domestic Interiors
Suzanne Preston Blier
Vernacular Architecture
Victor Buchli
Architecture and Modernism
Fred Myers
"Primitivism," Anthropology and the Category of "Primitive Art"
Robert Foster
Tracking Globalization
Commodities and Value in Motion

Barbara Bender
Place and Landscape
Paul Connerton
Cultural Memory
Ron Eglash
Technology as Material Culture
Daniel Miller
Meg Conkey
Design, Style and Function
James Carrier
Jonathan Mitchell
Paul Lane
Present to Past

Chris Gosden
Material Culture and Long-term Change
Marilyn Strathern
Intellectual Property and Rights
An Anthropological Perspective

Beverley Butler
Heritage and the Present Past
Anthony Shelton
Museums and Museum Displays
Michael Rowlands & Christopher Tilley
Monuments and Memorials
Diana Eastop
Conservation as Material Culture
Russell Belk
Collectors and Collecting

"The contributors pay serious attention to older and newer theoretical perspectives from a wide variety of sources, including literary currents of the 1990's. Architects, economists, and historians are largely welcome as visitors to this handbook."

J. L. Cooper
DePauw University

Understanding material culture and it's importance is an essential requirement for all Archaeologists. This handbook provides the detail needed in an easy to digest format.

Mr Sam Emmett
Early Childhood Education, Glyndwr University
September 3, 2019

A very interesting Anthropological book with some excellent thought provoking chapters on material culture. With the exception of the chapter on food this book does not relate to public health and this is the reason that it was not adopted.

Ms Joanna Harrison
School of Health and Wellbeing, Wolverhampton University
June 11, 2015

This Handbook of Material Culture is an excellent source book for a number of topics related to Museums and Museology and contains seminal texts in analysing the objects contained in ethnographic collections today and historically. I will be adopting it in my teaching and will recommend it to students adding it to my course handbooks and reading lists.

Dr Stephanie Pratt
School of Humanities, University of Plymouth
June 17, 2013

A great additional book for my class, comprehensive, easy to read at the undergrad level (at least some chapters); chapters on theoretical perspectives give a useful overview of issues and are very relevant.

Dr Alexia Panayiotou
Public and Business Administration, University of Cyprus
May 15, 2013

I had misunderstood the content of this book - it's not strictly relevant to the course I deliver. However I think it's an extremely well-researched text that would be useful to anyone seeking an overview of material culture in society today. I particularly like the way the authors draw on cultures and practices from across the world, and the organisation of the work into 5 parts enables the reader to hone in on what is most relevant to their study at that time.

Ms Angela Hilton
School of Education, Wolverhampton University
April 11, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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