CFP: Re-Imagining Materiality

[Can't help but snerk slightly at the continued hailing of the discovery of material culture by academia.]
Royal Geographic Society-Institute of British Geographers 2011 Annual
Conference, 31 Aug - 2 Sept 2011

Call For Papers: (Re)Imagining Materiality

Sponsored by the Social & Cultural Geography Research Group

The first decade of the 21st century has been marked by growing interest
in the material dimension of the social, and the role objects and
materials play in multiple areas of social interaction. The ‘material
turn’ has an implicit normative dimension at a time when the material
resources of the planet are under increasing stress, and when the
dependence of particular lifestyles on specific interactions with the
material world is becoming ever more apparent. Central to these
necessarily interrelated concerns are notions of resource use, the
production and consumption of materials and material goods, and their
multiple impacts in social, environmental and economic domains, including
the effects of the processes of ‘wasting’. As knowledge of the potential
repercussions of these global challenges underlines the need for
significant shifts in the ways in which we resource, produce, consume and
interact with material goods, we are forced to question some of the
central concepts that underpin our relationship with material culture.
Questioning, indeed, reimagining these concepts – such as value,
materiality and waste – could be key to facilitating the move to living
more closely within our means.

In this session we invite papers that deal with concepts of materiality,
value and waste, their interlinkages, and their place(s) within the nexus
of current social, environmental and economic challenges. Papers might,
amongst other things, address:
• the nature and implications of the socio-culturally shaped definitions
of these concepts – how notions of ‘value’ might be understood to be
changing, for example;
• the interrelations between concepts of transience and durability, both
of material items and our relationships with them;
• the role of design in informing, enabling and constraining human-object
• relationships with particular materialities such as landscapes,
souvenirs, clothing etc.;
• the meanings and impacts associated with commodity chains and their
legacies, as well as other ways in which objects move, shifting the
definitions applied to them as they change context;
• cultures of production and consumption, including the notion of ethical
production/consumption, the meanings that individuals bring to these
processes, how these meanings emerge and how they determine subsequent
• particular conceptual and methodological approaches such as social
practice theory, actor-network theory, or commodity chain studies that
might illuminate these debates.

We invite contributions that open up the discussion of how rethinking and
reimagining value, waste, materiality, and other associated ideas in the
contexts of production and consumption geographies might in turn recast
our relations with the material world. Papers may present conceptual
ideas, recent empirical work or methodological approaches related to one
or more of these themes.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to: Rebecca Collins,

Deadline for submission: Wednesday 9th February 2011


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