Mobility, Meaning and Transformations of Things: shifting contexts of material culture through time and space [Paperback]

Hans Peter Hahn (Editor); Hadas Weis (Editor)

ISBN: 9781842175255 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2013 | Language: English 176p, b/w illus

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Mobility, Meaning and Transformations of Things


Things travel around the globe: they are shipped as mass consumer goods, or transported as souvenirs or gifts. There are infinite ways for things to be mobile, not only in the era of globalisation but since the beginning of time, as the earliest traces of long distance trading show. This book investigates the mobility of things from archaeological and anthropological perspectives.

Material Objects are characterised by temporal continuity, embodying a prior existence with lingering effects. Yet the material continuity disguises the transformations they may undergo, which only become evident upon closer examination. Objects are in perpetual flux, leaving visible traces of their 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 new cultural horizons. As objects transform through time and space, so does the value attributed to them. Mapping out itineraries of value in the realm of the material, allows us to grasp the nature of a given social formation through the shape and meaning taken on by its valued 'stuff'. It also provides insights into the nature of materiality, through the value ascribed to objects at a given point in time and space.

This edited volume brings 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 how the realm of the material reflects upon society.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Biographies, travels and itineraries of things (Hans Peter Hahn and Hadas Weiss)
2. Houses of resistance: Time and materiality among the Mao of Ethiopia (Alfredo González-Ruibal)
3. Imprints as punctuations of material itineraries (Carl Knappett)
4. The sacred king, royal containers, alienable material contents, and value in contemporary Cameroon (Jean-Pierre Warnier)
5. Containing precious metals: Hallmarking, minting and the materiality of gold and silver in medieval and modern England (Peter Oakley)
6. Worthless things? On the difference between devaluing and sorting out things (Anamaria Depner)
7. Against the throw-away-mentality: The reuse of amphoras in ancient maritime transport (Selma Abdelhamid)
8. A secondary use of Roman coins? Possibilities and limitations of object biography (Gordana Ciric)
9. The role of flint in mediating identities: The microscopic evidence (Annelou van Gijn and Karsten Wentink)
10. Wampum as Maussian ‘objet social totalitaire’ (Mario Schmidt)
11. Bright as the sun: The appropriation of amber objects in Mycenaean Greece (Joseph Maran)
12. The materiality of medieval heirlooms: From biographical to sacred objects (Roberta Gilchrist)
13. Epilogue: Cultural biographies and itineraries of things: Second thoughts (David Fontijn)

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