Session: #230

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Stories and Compassion: Material Culture, Memory, and Emotion
“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”
Over the past decades, materiality and material culture have highly theorized in a range of academic disciplines outside of archaeology, including history, cultural anthropology, and sociology. Material items can be containers of collective and individual memory, devices capable of triggering emotional, psychological, and even physiological reactions, and tools for expressing or retaining identity. At the same time, the cross-disciplinary field of memory studies has grown out of psychology, cognitive science, history, museum and archive studies etc., and has addressed the processes of memory, the creation of memory and concepts such as collective memory, bringing a deeper analysis to the creation and perception of the past in self-definition and identity processes.
Material culture and memory studies can enrich and sharpen theoretical and methodological approaches to the things that have always been at the center of our discipline. Archaeological approaches can add sophistication to the ranges of memory, emotion and affect of lived experience in the past and in the present, as discussed in other disciplines. At the same time, we can incorporate their insights to enrich our own understanding of the past.
This session seeks to explore theories of memory and emotion through archaeological case studies. Through the analysis of material culture - from small objects such as heirlooms or everyday tools, to large structures such as monuments or buildings - these studies will explore the connections between materiality, emotion, and memory in the lived experience of the past and present.
Material culture, Memory, Emotion, Affect
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Main organiser:
Liv Nilsson Stutz (Sweden) 1
Sarah Tarlow (United Kingdom) 2
1. Linnaeus Univeristy
2. University of Leicester