Call for Papers: The In-Betweenness of Things

30 November 2012

Sowei Mask, Sierra Leone

A one-day symposium will be held at the British Museum in March 2013 to coincide with the Sowei Mask: Spirit of Sierra Leone exhibition and a call for papers has just been announced.

The Sowei Mask: Spirit of Sierra Leone exhibition will be on display at the British Museum between 14 February and 27 April 2013. The mask at the centre of the exhibition could be said to mediate between worlds. It materializes the interconnectivity between the worlds of the colonized and the colonizer in 19th-century West Africa.

This hybrid object is neither purely African, nor purely European, but exists in a space between. Aside from its ritual context in which the mask mediates between the domain of the spirits and that of humankind, it speaks of the multi-directional mobility of people and things as well as the entanglement of culture and power in the late 19th century. Today, the mask mediates between the museum and its communities, including diasporic communities who live ‘between’ London and Sierra Leone.

A one-day symposium 'The In-Betweenness of Things: Materializing Mediation and Movement between Worlds', coinciding with the exhibition, will be held on 22 March 2013 to explore the concept of ‘in-betweenness’ in material and visual culture.  Participants are encouraged to take an ‘object-centred’ approach, each using a particular object as a starting point to explore how things mediate between worlds in diverse cultural, geographic and temporal contexts.

Papers are welcomed that seek to expand our understanding of the nature of mediation, hybridity, ambiguity, mobility, interconnectivity, creolization and entanglement. How are such qualities expressed in material form? In what ways is the mediatory agency of such objects articulated? How do such objects challenge the reification of dichotomized worldviews (us/them, here/there, present/past, modern/primitive)?

A selection of papers will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Material Culture devoted to the theme of the symposium.

Please email Paul Basu by 31 January 2013 if you would like to submit a paper for consideration.

The symposium is being supported by: