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Research Students - Material Culture  

Year of start: 2010
Subject: Social & Material Culture

Research Topic/ Provisional Dissertation Title

Shifting Ontologies of Fabric: Textile, Material and the Making of Heaven in the Holy Orthodox Church


Susanne Küchler
Martin Holbraad


My interests are broadly based in Anthropology of Christianity, Anthropology of Art, Material Culture, Absence and the substance of the intangible, and non-Western Anthropologies; current specializations include shoes, clothing, ecclesiastical fabric, Orthodox temporalities, and material perspectivism.

I am currently researching the lived experience of fabric in the liturgical worship of the Holy Orthodox Church, investigating fabric as a ritual technology. Fabric is an integral component of the religious observation of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. By studying the cloth items, their use and the theology and canonical guidance concerning them, I aim to understand the coaction of fabric and person in making the place of worship into heaven. I will look at how material is used along with speech and gesture in the performance of prayer and other religious observances in order to see how the spiritual unseen is made evident in the physical mundane. I suggest that fabric is used to shift places and persons into different registers, allowing them—in these shifted ontologies—to perform ritual functions that they would not otherwise be able to perform.

Research interests

  • Material religion
  • Stuff and things, especially the immaterial parts
  • Christianity, especially ‘Eastern’ and ‘Oriental’ traditions
  • Clothing, dress and adornment

Academic Background/Education

2010 University College London, MA in Material and Visual Culture.
2007 Torrey Honors Institute, Certificate of Perpetual Membership.
2006 Biola University, BA Linguistic Anthropology.


2011 Pasold PhD Grant; Pasold Research Fund.
2011 Graduate Research Scholarship; Anonymous.
2011 Paleologos Graduate Scholarship; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
2010 Graduate Research Bursary in Anthropology; Anthropology Department, UCL.
2010 Paleologos Graduate Scholarship; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

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