Summerschool: Things that Matter – Material Culture in Historical Studies
22-28 June 2014, University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Application deadline: 1 May 2014.
This summer school aims to map out the vastly growing research field of Material Culture Studies and its methodological and theoretical implications for historians. Since several years text-oriented disciplines such as historical studies, have recognized artefacts and things as important sources for the understanding of complex social relations. At the same time it has become clear that these disciplines have little experience and training in the analysis of things. The integration of objects in historical research, for instance, has asked for a substantial “re-tooling” as Karen Harvey has recently pointed out, in order to fully grasp the “complex nature of objects as sources”.
It is the aim of the summer school to provide a systematic overview of theories and practical approaches towards materiality in social contexts within historical and related studies. What forms of insight result from the study of objects/things/artefacts as source materials? How are the ﬁeld’s terminology and concepts distinguished? Do established historical phenomena develop new signiﬁcance when viewed via ‘things’? Can ‘things’ be regarded as sources for understanding modes of thought and cultural habits that yield information that is not attainable via textual or iconic sources? Which kinds of information do objects immediately convey and how can we decode them? How does the haptic quality of things add to their meaning?
The workshops of the summer school focus on reading key texts, presenting and discussing work in progress of the students under the supervision of the international experts.
More speciﬁcally, the summer school addresses three interrelated themes, currently under discussion in this context: fashion cultures, the material legacy of slavery and colonialism, and the material legacy of medical knowledge practices. These ﬁelds provide global networks of exchange, they link the past with the present and raise awareness of the complicated nature of production and consumption.