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Properties and Social Imagination Research Group
WHERE AND WHEN: Alternate Wednesdays, 12-1pm, Room 128, Anthro.
FIRST MEETING: Wednesday 10th October, 12-1pm, Room 128, Anthro.
“Color here takes on a life of its own, as befits something in nature upon being transformed into a commodity.” (Taussig 2008)
This research group aims to explore properties through reading and through working on installations using objects from the ethnographic collection. This exploration will be conducted collaboratively with Massey University in New Zealand.
Properties are often ascribed to materials, and are distinct from the kinds of qualities which apply to objects as forms. The cultural variety of properties are particularly difficult to unpack, and can appear in a scientific sense to be inevitably associated with particular materials. This group aims to probe some of the cultural dimensions of properties:
- indigenous and alternative categorisations of properties and materials.
- the communication of properties independently of the experience of an object.
- those moments when properties come to be evident through work processes, transformations and the experience of resistance.
- the inter-engagement of properties as inhering in objects, and sensations or experiences as residing in persons.
For anthropology, properties, apparently fixed in materials, comprise rather of the experience of potentialities and limitations. They become relevant at specific social moments: places, times, and with particular people. These moments are often socially transformative ones. Material properties then are not simple constructs, but exist in practice as a compound of persons, objects, practices, knowledges, and materials.
The research group intends to investigate particular objects from the ethnographic collection, made from different materials, and from the Pacific region. We intend to find ways to collaboratively engage with researchers at Massey University around these objects, their materials, and their properties. In 2013, we aim to develop installations at UCL and Massey to communicate this ethnographic work on properties across the distance which separates UCL from Massey.