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Material Culture

Material Culture

UCL Anthropology is the world’s leading centre for Material culture studies. Drawing on long-term fieldwork and through creative ethnographic engagement, our starting point is the empirical study of how people make, exchange and consume objects. We explore how the material world is also central to the constitution of what it means to be human and theorize the social effects of material culture. In turn, we are also engaged with exploring the nature and experience of materiality.

With ten dedicated members of staff our research interests span the globe and intersect with many different intellectual trajectories including:

  • Theories of immateriality, the anthropology of architecture, 3-d Printing (Victor Buchli)
  • The impact of digital communications technologies on practices of work and the experience of home, new communication patterns in European migrants (Stefana Broadbent)
  • The history and theory of technology, Melanesian artefacts and epistemologies (Ludovic Coupaye)
  • Design ethnography, family photographs (Adam Drazin)
  • The anthropology of intellectual and cultural property, new digital objects, contemporary museum practices (Haidy Geismar)
  • Materials, Morality & Society; Empathy and Social Memory; Biography and Objects, new materials (Susanne Küchler)
  • Webcam, the anthropology of social networks, the use of technology in hospices, (Danny Miller), 
  • The visual archive in India, photography’s other histories (Chris Pinney)
  • New methods for exploring the phenomenology of landscape and gardens (Chris Tilley)

The Material Culture section founded and continues to edit the Journal of Material Culture, and the Journal of Home Cultures as well as the popular website Material World. WE convene a weekly public seminar in Material, Visual and Digital Culture and run a number of reading groups for instance, Properties and Social Imagination – in collaboration with visual artists and scholars at Massey University in New Zealand.

We offer three graduate programs for Masters Students:

We are also home to ERC funded The anthropology of social networking project, run by Daniel Miller, which is also supporting the work of several PhD and Postdoctoral Students and have established a new Centre for Digital Anthropology.


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UCL Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8633