Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Objects and Materials

A Routledge Companion, 1st Edition

Edited by Penny Harvey, Eleanor Conlin Casella, Gillian Evans, Hannah Knox, Christine McLean, Elizabeth B. Silva, Nicholas Thoburn, Kath Woodward


422 pages | 38 B/W Illus.

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There is broad acceptance across the Humanities and Social Sciences that our deliberations on the social need to take place through attention to practice, to object-mediated relations, to non-human agency and to the affective dimensions of human sociality. This Companion focuses on the objects and materials found at centre stage, and asks: what matters about objects?

Objects and Materials explores the field, providing succinct summary accounts of contemporary scholarship, along with a wealth of new research investigating the capacity of objects to shape, unsettle and exceed expectations. Original chapters from over forty international, interdisciplinary contributors address an array of objects and materials to ask what the terms of collaborations with objects and materials are, and to consider how these collaborations become integral to our understandings of the complex, relational dynamics that fashion social worlds.

Objects and Materials will be of interest to students and scholars across the social sciences and humanities, including in sociology, social theory, science and technology studies, history, anthropology, archaeology, gender studies, women’s studies, geography, cultural studies, politics and international relations, and philosophy.

Table of Contents

1. Objects and Materials: An Introduction by Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox Part I: Material Qualities Part I Introduction by Gillian Evans and Eleanor Conlin Casella 2. An Interview with Artist Helen Barff by Gillian Evans 3. A Poor Workman Blames His Tools or How Irrigation Systems Structure Human Actions by Maurits W. Ertsen 4. The Material Construction of State Power: Artifacts and the New Rome by Chandra Mukerji 5. The Material Politics of Solid Waste: Decentralization and Integrated Systems by Penny Harvey 6. From Stone to God and Back Again: Why We Need Both Materials and Materiality by Soumhya Venkatesan 7. New Materials and Their Impact on the Material World by Susanne Küchler and Peter Oakley 8. Decay, Temporality and the Politics of Conservation: An Archaeological Approach to Material Studies by Eleanor Conlin Casella and Karina Croucher Part II: Affective Objects Part II Introduction by Eleanor Conlin Casella and Kath Woodward 9. Boxing Films: Sensation and Affect by Kath Woodward 10. Tactile Compositions by Kathleen Stewart 11. Bodies and Cadavers by Maryon McDonald 12. Domination and Desire: The Paradox of Egyptian Human Remains in Museums by Karen Exell 13. A Dream of Falling: Philosophy and Family Violence by Patricia Ticineto Clough 14. Sarah Kofman’s Father’s Pen and Bracha Ettinger’s Mother’s Spoon: Trauma, Transmission and the Strings of Virtuality by Griselda Pollock 15. Spectral Objects: Material Links to Difficult Pasts for Adoptive Families by Steven D. Brown, Paula Reavey and Helen Brookfield Part III: Unsettling Objects Part III Introduction by Elizabeth Silva 16. Haunting in the Material of Everyday Life by Elizabeth Silva 17. The Fetish of Connectivity by Morten Axel Pedersen 18. Useless Objects: Commodities, Collections and Fetishes in the Politics of Objects by Nicholas Thoburn 19. The Unknown Objects of Object-Orientation by Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey 20. How Things Can Unsettle by Martin Holbraad 21. Objects Are the Root of All Philosophy by Graham Harman Part IV: Interface Objects Part IV Introduction by Nicholas Thoburn 22. True Automobility by Tim Dant 23. The Environmental Teapot and Other Loaded Household Objects: Re-connecting the Politics of Technology, Issues and Things by Noortje Marres 24. Interfaces: The Mediation of Things and the Distribution of Behaviours by Celia Lury 25. Idempotent, Pluripotent, Biodigital: Objects in the ‘Biological Century’ by Adrian Mackenzie 26. Real-ising the Virtual: Digital Simulation and the Politics of Future Making by Hannah Knox 27. Money Frontiers: The Relative Location of Euros, Turkish Lira and Gold Sovereigns in the Aegean by Sarah Green 28. Algorithms and the Manufacture of Financial Reality by Marc Lenglet Part V: Becoming Object Part V Introduction by Chris McLean and Gillian Evans 29. Animal Architextures by John Law and Marianne Elisabeth Lien 30. Objects Made Out of Action by Matei Candea 31. Quantitative Objects and Qualitative Things: Ethics and HIV Biomedical Prevention by Mike Michael and Marsha Rosengarten 32. Potentialities and Possibilities of Needs Assessment: Objects, Memory and Crystal Images by Chris McLean 33. Digital Traces and the ‘Print’ of Threat: Targeting Populations in the War on Terror by Alexandra Hall and Jonathan Mendel 34. Intangible Objects: How Patent Law is Redefining Materiality by Mario Biagioli 35. Thinking through Place and Late ANT Spatialities by Robert Oppenheim 36. What Documents Make Possible: Realising London’s Olympic Legacy by Gillian Evans

About the Editors

Penny Harvey is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester and Director of CRESC, the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change. Eleanor Conlin Casella is Professor of Historical Archaeology at the University of Manchester.

Gillian Evans is a Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester.

Hannah Knox is a Research Fellow at CRESC, the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change at the University of Manchester.

Christine McLean is a Senior Lecturer at the Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

Elizabeth B. Silva is Professor of Sociology at the Open University.

Nicholas Thoburn is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Manchester.

Kath Woodward is Professor of Sociology at the Open University.

About the Series


Culture, Economy and the Social

This series establishes the importance of innovative contemporary, comparative and historical work on the relations between social, cultural and economic change. It publishes empirically-based research that is theoretically informed, that critically examines the ways in which social, cultural and economic change is framed and made visible, and that is attentive to perspectives that tend to be ignored or side-lined by grand theorising or epochal accounts of social change. The series addresses the diverse manifestations of contemporary capitalism, and considers the various ways in which the `social', `the cultural' and `the economic' are apprehended as tangible sites of value and practice. It is explicitly comparative, publishing books that work across disciplinary perspectives, cross-culturally, or across different historical periods.

We are particularly focused on publishing books in the following areas that fit with the broad remit of the series:

  • Cultural consumption
  • Cultural economy
  • Cities and urban change
  • Materiality, sociality and the post-human
  • Culture and media industries
  • Culture and governance
  • Emerging forms of cultural and economic practice

The series is actively engaged in the analysis of the different theoretical traditions that have contributed to critiques of the `cultural turn'. We are particularly interested in perspectives that engage with Bourdieu, Foucauldian approaches to knowledge and cultural practices, Actor-network approaches, and with those that are associated with issues arising from Deleuze's work around complexity, affect or topology. The series is equally concerned to explore the new agendas emerging from current critiques of the cultural turn: those associated with the descriptive turn for example. Our commitment to interdisciplinarity thus aims at enriching theoretical and methodological discussion, building awareness of the common ground has emerged in the past decade, and thinking through what is at stake in those approaches that resist integration to a common analytical model.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General