Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities

[ mat~con ]

A research initiative at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, LMU Munich.

by Philipp Schorch and Martin Saxer

Road-side shop in the Batken Region, Kyrgyzstan. © 2014 Martin Saxer

The Idea

This initiative aims at collectively thinking through connectivity and materiality. Our starting point is simple: things that move and thereby connect or, the other way round, connections made through things are central to anthropology’s concerns. From the Kula Ring to the journeys of museum objects, from the travels of empire-founding Buddha statues to the logics and logistics of shipping containers, connectivity and materiality are interwoven in various but particular ways. Somewhat akin to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, we take connectivity and materiality not as defined properties of some-thing but as two interrelated modes in which an entity is, or rather is becoming, in a world. Thus, with materiality we do not mean the materials as such, but the underlying forces and potentialities as material entity. Likewise, connectivity does not denote a single connection, but the underlying mode of being or becoming connected with other entities. The question is how these two ways of existence relate and fold into each other to produce the realities we attempt to understand.

In order to solve this puzzle we organized two one-day workshops followed by a final one-day symposium. Each of the three events was designed to trace histories, dissect theories, scrutinize methodologies and contextualize ethnographies through a material lens with the common objective to reflect on and sharpen our anthropological inquiries.

Outcomes

The historical, theoretical, methodological and ethnographic overlaps studied, as well as the common conceptual framework created, offered fertile grounds for co-investigations moving beyond established regional and thematic foci. The three-event structure spanning fifteen months ensured that ideas had time to ripen before harvesting them. This approach – slow but nutritious food for the brain, so to say – led to a set of papers presented at the symposium and compiled into an edited volume entitled Things and Ties: Researching Materiality and Connectivity in Anthropology and Beyond. The volume, edited by Martin Saxer, Philipp Schorch and Marlen Elders is currently under review and scheduled for publication in 2019. It includes contributions by Tim Ingold, Philipp Stockhammer, Julia Binter, Catrien Notermans and Jean Kommers, Natalie Göltenboth, Juliane Müller, Anna-Maria Walter, Srinivas Reddy, Gillian Tan, Marc Higgin, Jennifer Clarke, Lorenzo Granada, Gabriele Herzog-Schröder, Adam Kaasa, Elia Petridou and Lisa Francesca Rail.

Related Events


28
Nov 2015

Material, Experience, and the Mobile

First workshop of the research initiative “Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities”


29
Jul 2016

Materials, Environments, and Curatorial Interventions

Second workshop of the research initiative “Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities”


09
Feb 2017

Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities

International Symposium at the Center for Advanced Studies, LMU Munich


Outputs


Video

Artistic-Academic Interventions of the Symposium Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities

by NATALIE GöLTENBOTH, GABRIELE HERZOG-SCHRöDER, MARC HIGGIN, LISA RAIL, FELIX REMTER, MIRIAM REMTER, ANNA-MARIA WALTER
09 February 2017
LMU Munich

Talks

Recordings of the Symposium Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities

by TIM INGOLD, PHILIPP SCHORCH, MARTIN SAXER, TOM WIDGER, PHILIPP W. STOCKHAMMER, JENNIFER CLARKE, GILLIAN G. TAN, MARK ALDENDERFER, SRINIVAS G. REDDY, JULIA BINTER, ALICE VON BIEBERSTEIN, LORENZO GRANADA, ADAM KAASA, ALESSANDRO RIPPA, JULIANE MüLLER, INGE DANIELS, CATRIEN NOTERMANS, ELIA PETRIDOU
05 April 2017
LMU Munich

Contact:
Highland Asia Research Group
LMU, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich, Germany
martin.saxer@lmu.de | +49 89 2180 9639

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