The Empire of Things: Regimes of Value and Material Culture (School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series)

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9781930618060: The Empire of Things: Regimes of Value and Material Culture (School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series)

Representing a new wave of thinking about material culture studies-a topic long overdue for reevaluation-the essays in this volume take a fresh look at the relationship between material culture and exchange theory and illuminate the changing patterns of cultural flow in an increasingly global economy and the cultural differences registered in “regimes of value.” The Empire of Things includes an extensive interview with the late Annette B.Weiner, whose work on exchange theory still inspires contemporary material culture studies.

The contributors deconstruct the traditional opposition between “gift” and “commodity” and between supposedly; “alienable” and “inalienable” objects in ceremonies of exchange-whether on the island of Sumba or among middle-class shoppers in North London. They show how objects can become symbols of national identity, in cases ranging from artworks in Australia to lost body parts of past Mexican presidents. They reveal how the movement of objects through different contexts, across borders, or through art exhibitions exposes contradictions and shifting meanings for different constituencies.

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About the Author:

Editor and contributor Fred R. Myers is a social anthropologist whose research is primarily on the Aboriginal people of Australia. He is the chair of the anthropology department at New York University.

Review:

...The Empire of Things provides a comparative basis for critiquing theories on aesthetics and cultural representation, the potency of symbolic transformation, and above all, the power of objects. In The Empire of Things, the chapters by Annie Coombes and Fred Myers which discuss issues of artistic and cultural autonomy, universalism, authenticity, value, taste, and corruption (art tainted by technology and always vulnerable to the gravitational pull of a more sophisticated art world) are particularly valuable reading for students puzzling over these contradictions. This approach, incorporating both art and performance, is ...a major emphasis in the edited volume, The Empire of Things: Regimes of Value and Material Culture. --Suzanne P. MacAulay, Transformations: The Journal of inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy, Fall 2007

"...The Empire of Things provides a comparative basis for critiquing theories on aesthetics and cultural representation, the potency of symbolic transformation, and above all, the power of objects." "In The Empire of Things, the chapters by Annie Coombes and Fred Myers which discuss issues of artistic and cultural autonomy, universalism, authenticity, value, taste, and 'corruption' (art tainted by technology and always vulnerable to the gravitational 'pull' of a more sophisticated art world) are particularly valuable reading for students puzzling over these contradictions." "This approach, incorporating both art and performance, is ...a major emphasis in the edited volume, The Empire of Things: Regimes of Value and Material Culture." --Suzanne P. MacAulay, Transformations: The Journal of inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy, Fall 2007

[T]his volume is essential and generally exciting reading for any scholar of material culture seeking to understand where the cutting complexities of the discipline lie. --E. Moore Quinn, Museum Anthropology Vol. 26, no. 1

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Claudio Lomnitz (Contributor), Daniel Miller (Contributor), Annie E. Coombes (Contributor), Webb Keane (Contributor), Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (Contributor)
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