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UCL Anthropology

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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:

  • Media and mediation, digital politics and postsocialism (Rik Adriaans)
  • Theories of immateriality, the anthropology of architecture, extra-terrestrial ethnography (Victor Buchli)
  • 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)
  • The anthropology of infrastructure; climate change and the 'anthropocene'; digital data and expertise (Hannah Knox)
  • Fabric, Fashion & Society; Innovation and Material Translation; Anthropology of Art; Abstraction, Modelling and Image Based Polities in Oceania (Susanne Küchler)
  • The anthropology of social networks, the use of technology in hospices, (Danny Miller)
  • Visual theory, visual cultures of South Asia, photography and the political imagination (Chris Pinney)
  • Anthropology of the built environment, visual anthropology (Maria Salaru)
  • Art and the public sphere, iconoclashes (Rafael Schacter)
  • The anthropology of data and algorithms, knowledge infrastructures, techno-science (Antonia Walford)

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.

We offer two graduate programs for Masters Students: