The Department of Anthropology at UCL is without doubt the world’s leading centre for the study of material culture. We publish the Journal of Material Culture as well as Home Cultures, several related books series and, along with New York University, the main relevant blog <http://materialworldblog.com>. We have over forty PhD students and run the MA in Material and Visual Culture, the MSc in Digital Anthropology and the MA in Culture Materials and Design.
Material and visual culture is concerned with how people make, exchange and consume the material world, but equally with how material forms and visual images are central to the socialisation of human beings into culture. We are in vanguard of theoretical discussion in exploring perspectives such as phenomenology and objectification.
Material Culture at UCL is firstly associated with cutting-edge research both by our staff and around 40 PhD students and additional Post-doctoral fellows.
Current research by staff includes:
- 3-D printing (Buchli)
- Digital communication and intimacy (Broadbent)
- Indigenous modes of thought in the Pacific (Melanesia) - Indigenous understanding of material properties - Plants and their use - Arts, artefacts, technology and sociotechnical systems (Coupaye)
- Digital museum objects and new forms of cultural and intellectual property (Geismar)
- Materials, Morality & Society; Empathy and Social Memory; Biography and Object; Art & Aesthetics; Pacific Ethnography (Küchler)
- Social networking in seven countries (Miller)
- Indian photography (Pinney)
- Archaeology and gardening (Tilley)
There are associated research programmes in a wide range of topics from waste to museums to robotics.
For our students and staff we run a weekly public seminar with invited speakers and several associated reading groups. We have close links with the Institute of Archaeology as well as several London museums such as the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. With the growth of the digital and the materials programme we also have growing links to industry and applied studies that recognise the potential contribution of the material culture perspective
There has recently been an increasingly international interest in our work and the desire to establish similar if smaller research centres in material culture on the UCL model. Many of our students now teach material culture in countries ranging from Estonia and Australia to Chile and Austria.
For further information and to see the three MA and MSc programmes click here.