American Artifact Culture Essay In Material

American Artifact Culture Essay In Material-50
(Tilley, 2004:1) A further ethnographically based approach is to problematize the dualism between gift (as inalienable and non-Western) and commodity (as alienable and Western) as discussed by Mauss (2001) [1925] in relation to gift giving, and Marx (1976) [1867] in relation to commodity in systems of exchange (Miller, 2001).

(Tilley, 2004:1) A further ethnographically based approach is to problematize the dualism between gift (as inalienable and non-Western) and commodity (as alienable and Western) as discussed by Mauss (2001) [1925] in relation to gift giving, and Marx (1976) [1867] in relation to commodity in systems of exchange (Miller, 2001).

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(Tilley, 19) From a theoretical point of view it is obvious that people do encode metaphorical meanings into things which would themselves have no meaning.

But from the point of view of methodology, of the analysis of material forms, things once created work themselves to reproduce or transform the social contexts in which they are encountered and move.

Objectification considers the construction and translation of social relations, culture and value systems through artefacts, and has three primary concerns.

First of all the concept of knowledge and identity is possible through objects.

The consideration of biographical objects challenges dominant, Western and Enlightenment narratives that create a dualism between subjects and objects, whereby the object is always seen as mute in relation to the subject as absolute agent of action.

As Heidegger discusses in his essay Age of the World Picture, the Enlightenment man of reason made a picture of the world, and separated it off from himself in order to understand and exploit it.

Anthropology is the study of social relationships and material culture is the study of objects.

Objects are closely linked to what people do and social processes, for as Simmel argues…

There is no escape from the subject, but objects do to a certain degree dictate how they are appropriated, objectified and re-contextualized over space and time – for example, the actual materiality of the object sets limits on its social function, its production, and its modification through subsequent cultural transformation of value through exchange and whether as gift or commodity (Thomas, 1991).

It is my intention to take as impetus Tilley’s (1999, 1991) application of metaphor to material culture in order to consider the implications of applying the term ‘biography’ as a predominantly textual and metaphorical term.

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