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Text of SOCI/ANTH 44

  • Week 1 IntroductionSOCI/ANTH 441 Material CultureAlexandre Enkerli

  • TodayGet to know each otherIntroduce the courseGive ideas for projectTalk about things

  • PodcastAudio recordingAutomaticPosted online after classOn-recordCan pauseWould prefer to leave on-record

  • Getting to Know Each Other

  • AlexEthnographic disciplines (cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, ethnomusicology, folkloristics, sociology)Constructive, collaborative learningAdaptingInformal

  • History of the CourseBart Simon's courseShort notice in 2008Got deeper into issues (anthro/soci of tech, consumer research, Miller, affordances...)Adapted

  • Upper-LevelAdvanced CourseNot necessarily grad school1More autonomousLess required materialProject focus

  • Attitude Toward Material CultureSomewhat detached, pragmaticGeek cultureNot gadget freakMore aural than visualNot full of purty pickters (pretty pictures)Navigate abstract and concreteSensory aspects

  • IntroductionsBackgroundAcademicPersonalMaterial cultureFavourite thing?Anything else?

  • Talking About Things

  • TermsThing, object, entity, stuff, matter, substance, item, artefact, propertyPossessions, belongings, commodities, goods, productsIt, this, thatMaterial, physical, virtual, imaginedNatural, manufactured, crafted, processed

  • Some ThemesInequality, Gender, Domesticity, Public/private dichotomy, Class, Technology adoption, Science, Engineering, Postmodernism, Industrialization, Consumption, Globalization, Commodification. Environmentalism, Gift economy, Property rights, Intellectual property, Ethnic identity, Cultural diversity, Cultural heritage, Tradition, Appropriation, Personalization/customization, Fetishism, Value, Purity, Trash, Subjectivity, Embodiment, Agency, Materialism, Aesthetics...

  • InterdisciplinarySociology and Anthropology (half-and-half)ArchitectureFolkloristicsTechnologyArchology

  • Interdisciplinary (list)Psychology, cultural studies, engineering, history, market research, folkloristics, architecture, economics, archaeology, popular culture, art history, gender studies, semiotics, political science, museum studies, consumer research, American studies, etc.Focus on anthropology and sociology

  • Own Approach to CourseEthnographyFolkloristicsMusicSensory anthropologySemiotics

  • Course OutlineMay changeBit of lectureMostly seminar discussionsPresentationsAttendance required, even during presentationsSeminar participation outside of classCome preparedPrewrite

  • ReadingsOnline (links to PDF Files)RefWorksOn-CampusBookstore coursepack

  • CoursepackShortComment from studentActively working with textsAdapted from previous

  • Additional contentFurther understandingProjectOnline sourcesMCU ( World (

  • Required ReadingsSeptember 16Dant: Mainstream issues in material cultureLatour: Classic, Important authorBoth with non-humans, both in Bart'sSeptember 23Naji&Douny: Roundup issues, Making and doing UCL workshop, Francophone anthroSeptember 30Miller: Important author, Address sad, Mobility, CarribeanOctober 7Gordon: Neat approach, FolkloristicsPascali: talian-Canadians, Material culture in behaviourBoth previous coursepack, well-received, both place, domesticity, gender

  • Required ReadingsOctober 14Larson: Pharmaceuticals, Minaturization, Museums, biographyOctober 21Pinch & Bijker: in Bart Simon's, Classic approach, Large fieldOctober 28Smith & Bugni: in previous coursepack, Classic approach, Architecture. November 4Jackson: Commodities, in my previous coursepackNovember 11Bickford: Had MP3 texts (from Bart Simon's coursepack), Blogged, Immateriality

  • OnlineMoodle and BuddyPressReadingsAssignmentsHandoutsSlidesPodcastForumsPodcasts

  • ProjectSocial analysis of an object

  • Three partsDescription of a Thing (20%, due October 1)Presentation (30%, November 526)Final Paper (40%, Due December 5)

  • Project GuidelinesSocial science on thingPeople through objectsFrom thing to society/cultureFocus on anthropology/sociologyMultiple anglesCan be on thing-related behaviour (e.g. unboxing)

  • Choosing a ThingLeaving openSome adviceIf need help, can discussNo ideal thing, no impossible thingAccessible literatureNot too specializedNot overwhelming

  • Example ThingsComputer keyboard, cellphone, vinyl record, vitamin tablets, Aeron chair, vibrator, statueHood (UofT): blackboards, hats, political buttons, music boxes, dress, chocolate, tattoo, postcards, mirrors...Other examples: rock, bumper stickers, stamp, t-shirts, car, bicycle

  • Previous ProjectsAK-47BackpackBarber poleBedroom doorCigaretteCounterfeit handbagDrumDumpsterEngagement ringEyeglassesFixieGPS unitHair relaxerHockey stickHousekeyRoseStudent bicycleTeddybearUS $1 billVideogameWristwatch

  • Thing CharacteristicsBounded or boundlessUnique (Statue of Liberty) or category (pills)Durable or transient/ephemeralTechnology

  • Choosing ApproachNamed theory (SCOT, ANT, Symbolic Interactionism...)ScholarsField/domainBackgroundOther work

  • MethodDescription (including sensory)Genealogy (history, genesis)Ethnography (including autoethnography/introspection)Social/cultural analysis (adoption, implications, impacts, meanings...)

  • Questions to askDimensions from Joseph Dumits Artifact Project, Labour, Professional/Epistemological, Material, Technological, Political, Economic, Bodily/Organic, Historical, Contextual/Situated, Educational, Mythological

  • PresentationMore than show and tellPlan aheadFrom work-in-progress to almost doneOffice hour presentations

  • PaperBring togetherSociology/anthropology of thingCase studies