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Clay in conversation: materials and artisan subjectivities Mobile researcher: Geoffrey Gowlland, UK

Tildelt: kr 0,16 mill.





2012 - 2013


Increasingly, anthropologists are becoming interested in the non-linguistic, bodily, sensual and emotional bases of culture. In this frame of research, the anthropology of craft has had an important role to play, contributing empirically, theoretically an d methodologically to the question of the relationship between humans and their material environment. In the framework of this scholarship, anthropologists have come up against a methodological problem: traditionally, anthropologists rely on linguistic da ta such as narratives and verbal rationalisations of experiences, yet these are ill-adapted in understanding the embodied experiences of people. One solution has been to rely on a degree of introspection on the part of the researcher, and assume analogy o f experiences between anthropologist and subject of study. Yet the personal histories that shape and colour these experiences are either left out of such analyses, or accessed through the problematic medium of language. Inspired from new theoretical direc tions in the study of material culture, this project aims to contribute to address this problem of method through an exploration of experimental visual and object-based methodological approaches as ways of accessing the experiences and subjectivities of a rtisans. This will involve collecting data in the form of transcription of video footage depicting the transformation of materials by artisans, and research on ceramic objects and ceramics factory environments, in order to build a 'biography' of a single material, clay. This will enable me to formulate a theory of the relationship between the biography of a material, and the transforming subjectivities of artisans as they work with this material. Based at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo , I will profit from expertise of scholars in material culture, art, craft and materiality, and encourage international dialogue on questions of methods in material culture through the organisation of a workshop.