At Home in Renaissance Bruges

2022 ◽  
Julie De Groot

How did citizens in Bruges create a home? What did an ordinary domestic interior look like in the sixteenth century? And more importantly: how does one study the domestic culture of bygone times by analysing documents such as probate inventories? These questions seem straightforward, yet few endeavours are more challenging than reconstructing a sixteenth-century domestic reality from written sources. This book takes full advantage of the inventory and convincingly frames household objects in their original context of use. Meticulously connecting objects, people and domestic spaces, the book introduces the reader to the rich material world of Bruges citizens in the Renaissance, their sensory engagement, their religious practice, the role of women, and other social factors. By weaving insights from material culture studies with urban history, At Home in Renaissance Bruges offers an appealing and holistic mixture of in-depth socio-economic, cultural and material analysis. In its approach the book goes beyond heavy-handed theories and stereotypes about the exquisite taste of aristocratic elites, focusing instead on the domestic materiality of Bruges’ middling groups. Evocatively illustrated with contemporary paintings from Bruges and beyond, this monograph shows a nuanced picture of domestic materiality in a remarkable European city.

Isabela Cristina Suguimatsu

Since the 1960s the focus of historical research about dress and clothing turned from a purely descriptive approach to a semiotic one: researches have started aiming at the representations and tried to understand the symbols behind the objects. Resting on the so called material culture studies, the objective of this article is to conceive dress no more subordinate to the dimension of the ideal meanings, but rather as materiality actively used in the process of signifying and making of social life. In the article I try to understand the role of dressing for “being a slave” in eighteenth-century Brazil: a society that valued ideals expressed in European fashion, but imposed social barriers for accessing them – for the slaves wear the materiality linked to such ideals. O vestuário dos escravos entre representação e materialidade Desde a década de 1960, os estudos sobre a indumentária e o vestuário passaram de uma abordagem puramente descritiva para outra baseada na semiótica: buscou-se atingir as representações e entender os símbolos por trás dos objetos. Com base nos chamados estudos da cultura material, o objetivo desse artigo é pensar o vestuário não mais subordinado à dimensão dos significados ideais, mas como materialidade ativamente usada no processo de significação e conformação da vida social. Para tanto, busca-se entender o papel do vestuário na constituição do “ser escravo” no Brasil oitocentista: em uma sociedade que valorizava ideais expressos na moda europeia, mas que criava barreiras para o acesso irrestrito a esses ideais e para o uso, pelos escravos, da materialidade a eles associada.

Rodney Harrison

The focus of this article is stone tools. The history of stone tool research is linked integrally to the history of archaeology and the study of the human past, and many of the early developments in archaeology were connected with the study of stone artefacts. The identification of stone tools as objects of prehistoric human manufacture was central to the development of nineteenth-century models of prehistoric change, and especially the Three Age system for Old World prehistory. This article draws on concepts derived from interdisciplinary material culture studies to consider the role of the artefact after being discarded. It suggests that it is impossible to understand the meaning or efficacy of stone tools without understanding their ‘afterlives’ following abandonment. This article aims to complement contemporary metrical studies of the identification of stone tools and the description of their production. A brief history of the stone tools is explained and this concludes the article.

Heritage ◽  
2019 ◽  
Vol 2 (2) ◽  
pp. 1085-1096
Durga Kale

Anthropological fieldwork in rural settlements on the west coast of India has unraveled the close connection between lived experiences, spaces and objects. These “inalienable possessions”, in the words of Annette Weiner, help reconstruct the past through the supplementation of oral traditions. Following this vein, the paper attempts to mesh together the material culture and oral histories to establish the provenance for the plethora of memorials in the state of Gujarat. A series of oral narratives collected in Western India since 2014 has highlighted the role of medieval memorial stelae that commemorate the deceased heroes of war and their wives and companions. This paper creates a niche for the Gujarati oral tradition as provenance for the continued veneration of these memorials. Field observations from 2014–2016 and notes from research in Gujarat from 1985 onwards enabled the study of patterns in the oral preservation of literature. A systematic documentation of the existing stelae and associated oral traditions has informed the views in this paper. The paper speaks to all levels of interaction and the making of an identity for the memorial stones that are unique to the state of Gujarat. A case for the inclusion of such rich material in museum displays is made in connection with this case study of the memorial stelae in Gujarat.

David Morgan

In recent years, the study of religion has undergone a useful materialization in the work of many scholars, who are not inclined to define it in terms of ideas, creeds, or doctrines alone, but want to understand what role sensation, emotion, objects, spaces, clothing, and food have played in religious practice. If the intellect and the will dominated the study of religion dedicated to theology and ethics, the materialization of religious studies has taken up the role of the body, expanding our understanding of it and dismantling our preconceptions, which were often notions inherited from religious traditions. As a result, the body has become a broad register or framework for gauging the social, aesthetic, and practical character of religion in everyday life. The interest in material culture as a primary feature of religion has unfolded in tandem with the new significance of the body and the broad materialization of religious studies.

2017 ◽  
Daniel Niles

This paper explores the significance of local forms of knowledge of the natural world, especially the role of this knowledge in cultural coherence and persistence through time, and its consequent significance to the intellectual challenges of the Anthropocene. The text examines the activity of a master charcoal-maker and forest-manager in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, who works within a landscape recognized by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS)—a place of special cultural and agroecological value. Drawing on theories of the evolution of knowledge and material culture studies, charcoal is seen as embodiment of particular understandings of the agencies of the natural world. Attention to the various stages in the production and use of charcoal sheds light on the structure of this knowledge, especially on the important areas in which qualities of one field of activity are transferred to or become essential to another. These “overlaps” link what otherwise appear to be disparate fields of activity into mutually constitutive elements of a whole. They shed light on the dynamics of cultural persistence and indicate the diversity of forms environmental knowledge; they can amplify understanding of the nature of the Anthropocene.

2020 ◽  
Vol 4 (1) ◽  
pp. 43-65
Sarah-Maria Schober

Abstract This essay shows that early modern practices that used human bodily matter cannot be – as hitherto – explained by the absence of the emotion of disgust nor as being conducted in spite of disgust. Instead, it proposes to read those practices’ changing history as part of the history of the ‘paradox of disgust’. Four case studies (on anatomy, excrement, mummies and skulls) demonstrate that disgust was highly productive: it attracted fascination, allowed physicians to fashion themselves, and was even believed capable of healing. Over time and for complex reasons, however, the productive side of disgust declined. Combining current approaches in the history of emotions and material culture studies, this essay sets out not only to propose a new narrative for the changing role of disgust in early modern science and societies, but also to explore how variations in settings and human intervention changed the way emotions were used and perceived.

2018 ◽  
Vol 12 (2) ◽  
pp. 123-129
Julia McClure

Abstract This forum examines the role of charity in empire formations from a diachronic and transregional perspective. It focuses upon the beliefs, discourses, and practices of charity that developed within Christianity and the roles they played in the West’s imperial projects, from the first global empires that emerged from the Iberian Peninsula in the sixteenth century to projects of philanthro-imperialism in modern China. This forum exposes the complex religious, economic, political, and cultural roles that charity has played in imperial projects and increases our consciousness of the ways it continues to shape global politics. It shines light on the way in which governing bodies, institutions, and individuals have instrumentalized charity to achieve a range of strategic functions whilst shaping the narrative and image of their power. Viewing empire through the lens of charity also provides the opportunity to bring not only the rich but also the poor into focus and to explore the ways they have been active subjects negotiating for a range of material and immaterial resources in imperial contexts.

2013 ◽  
Vol 16 ◽  
Benjamin Woo

Although, as qualitative consumer research and material culture studies have demonstrated, objects can be rich sources of meaning and stability, they also entail basic limitations on human action. Interviews conducted as part of a study of one city's nerd-culture scene permitted analysis of the constraints that materiality imposes on fan activity. Fans must have access to certain physical objects in order to realize their practices, and collecting, storing, and purging these objects in domestic spaces constitutes a pragmatics that sets limits and exerts pressures on participants.

2018 ◽  
Vol 4 (1) ◽  
pp. 97-113 ◽  
Barry Molloy ◽  
Marina Milić

Abstract The role of 3D modelling in archaeology is increasing exponentially, from fieldwork to architecture to material culture studies. For the study of archaeological objects the roles of digital and print models for public engagement has been much considered in recent literature. For model makers, focus has typically been placed on exceptional and visually striking objects with inherent appeal. In contrast, this paper explores some of the potential roles for 3D digital models for routine artefact research and publication. Particular emphasis is placed on the challenges this technology raises for archaeological theory and practice. Following a consideration of how 3D models relate to established illustration and photographic traditions, the paper evaluates some of the unique features of 3D models, focussing on both positive and negative aspects of these. This is followed by a discussion of the role of potential research connections between digital and craft models in experimental research. Our overall objective is to emphasise a need to engage with the ways in which this gradual development has begun to change aspects of longestablished workflows. In turn, the increasing use of this technology is argued to have wider ramifications for the development of archaeology, and material culture studies in particular, as a discipline that requires reflection.

Fontanus ◽  
2010 ◽  
Vol 12 ◽  
Annmarie Adams ◽  
Peter Gossage

This article focuses on the spaces associated with the extended family of John William and Margaret Dawson, particularly their nine-room, two-storey home at 293 University Street in Montreal. The Dawsons purchased their retirement house in 1893, as well as the house next door for their daughter, Anna, her husband, chemistry professor Bernard Harrington, and their eight children. The two houses are rich sources on how two generations lived together and separately simultaneously. The rich archival legacy of the Dawsons illustrates how Anna Harrington organized her house to regulate her children’s health, especially that of her son Eric, who suffered from a series of ailments and died in 1894.  “Health Matters” contributes to our growing understanding of the architecture and material culture of childhood by modeling an interdisciplinary method drawn from architectural and social history. Secondly, it argues that mothers directed their movements according to the condition of children; furthermore, it looks at how children organized household and backyard spaces, completely independently from adults; and finally, it shows how extended families constructed sophisticated boundaries while living in a decidedly fluid, pre-modern way.ResuméCe texte présente une exploration des espaces associés à la famille élargie de John William et Margaret Dawson, dont notamment leur maison de neuf pièces sur deux étages, située au 293, rue University à Montréal. Les Dawson acquièrent cette maison en 1893 pour y vivre pendant leur retraite. Ils achètent en même temps la maison voisine pour héberger leur fille Anna, son mari Bernard Harrington, professeur de chimie, et leurs huit enfants. Les deux maisons constituent une documentation très riche sur la manière dont deux générations peuvent vivre ensemble et séparément en même temps. Le patrimoine archivistique de la famille Dawson fait ressortir la manière dont Anna Harrington organise sa vie domestique afin de réguler la santé de ses enfants et surtout celle de son fils Eric, qui souffre d’une série de maladies avant d’en mourir en 1894. À partir d’une méthode interdisciplinaire située au carrefour de l’histoire sociale et de l’histoire de l’architecture, “Health Matters” ajoute à nos connaissances de l’architecture et de la culture matérielle de l’enfance. Le texte suggère à quel point les mères agissent en fonction de la condition des enfants et démontre comment les enfants organisent parfois, à l’abri de toute intervention des parents, des espaces de la maison et du jardin. Enfin, il démontre la façon dont la famille élargie peut ériger des frontières internes complexes, tout en vivant d’une manière fluide, définitivement pré-moderne.

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