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Material Cultures

Why Some Things Matter

The field of material culture, while historically well established, has recently enjoyed something of a renaissance. Methods once dominated by Marxist- and commodity-oriented analyses and by the study of objects as symbols are giving way to a more ethnographic approach to artifacts. This orientation is the cornerstone of the essays presented in Material Cultures. A collection of case studies which move from the domestic sphere to the global arena, the volume includes examinations of the soundscape produced by home radios, catalog shopping, the role of paper in the workplace, and the relationship between the production and consumption of Coca-Cola in Trinidad.

The diversity of the essays is mediated by their common commitment to ethnography with a material focus. Rather than examine objects as mirages of media or language, Material Cultures emphasizes how the study of objects not only contributes to an understanding of artifacts but is also an effective means for studying social values and contradictions.

251 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1998

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Culture Studies

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors
1: Why some things matter
Daniel Miller
2: Radio texture: between self and others
Jo Tacchi
3: From woollen carpet to grass carpet: bridging house and garden in an English suburb
Sophie Chevalier
4: Window shopping at home: classifieds, catalogues and new consumer skills
Alison J. Clarke
5: The message in paper
Andrea Pellegram
6: Material of culture, fabric of identity
Neil Jarman
7: Calypso’s consequences
Justin Finden-Crofts
8: Coca-Cola: a black sweet drink from Trinidad
Daniel Miller
9: Signs of the new nation: gift exchange, consumption and aid on a former collective farm in north-west Estonia
Sigrid Rausing
10: At home and abroad: inalienable wealth, personal consumption and the formulations of femininity in the southern Philippines
Mark Johnson

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