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Secondly, knowledge is carried by relations among relations of things – i.e. Thirdly, there are methodological consequences of objectification as a theory.
A methodology which applies the notion of biography to things recovers man’s embodied relation to the world.
The current aim of material culture studies, as multi-displinary and within the anthropology department at University College London (which include amongst others; Tilley, 1999, 1991; Miller, 1995, 1987; Pinney, 2004; Kuchler, 2001), and from which I take my lead, is to develop Hegelian, Marxist, and Bourdieurian materialist theories through ethnographic research in order to de-fetishize objects and to find a more worthy model of engagement with the world.
The recognition of the contextual, cultural, temporal and spatial characteristics of things is crucial to this ethnographic re-assessment of modernity’s universalizing and homogenizing influences on notions of history.
Material culture considers the methodological consequences of realizing an object’s agency, its response capacities and its abilities to carry information; for example Gell’s anthropological theory of art is; ‘the social relations in the vicinity of objects mediating social agency’ (1998:7).
One of the most fundamental theories to the study of material culture, and by extension biographical objects, is that of objectification.
As Miller argues, ‘…social worlds are as much constituted by materiality as the other way around…’ (1998: 8).
Essay question: Can the notion of biography be applied to things?
Discuss Things create people as much as people make them.
In perpetual fusion and separation, the subject and object leave an imprint on one another, enabling a secondary objectivity.
Subjectivity is objectified and vice versa, and it is this which makes possible the application of the notion of biography to things.