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Department of Social Anthropology



This research cluster focuses on the materiality of signs and the semiotics of matter. It asks how we materialise, share and transform knowledge, meaning and symbols through media, understood in the widest sense - from books, radio and film, through social media and other virtual modes of engagement, to material items of mediation such as valuables, houses or bodies. Media practices shape social and cultural life, mark out spaces of memory and forgetting, contribute to assembling and disassembling publics of various kinds. Research undertaken under this cluster also focuses on the role of more-than-human actors - objects, animals, plants, landscapes - in the mediation of knowledge, memory and affective states. This cluster offers a space for interrogating cultures of expertise, including anthropological expertise, attending to knowledge-making itself as a material process, where methodology and theory meet affect, ethics and politics in complex and ever-changing ways.


Research undertaken under this cluster includes work on:

- mass media, photographic and film practices, notably through the Visual Anthropology Lab.

- archives, historic collections, and memory

- changing understandings of publics in relation to technological change (from printing revolutions in non-european settings, to the reinvention of community, freedom and personhood in online worlds)

- Museums and their collections as sites which mediate questions of diversity and narratives of culture, history and decolonization

- encounters between Indigenous peoples and tourists, filmmakers and the media

- Indigenous writing and print cultures including and beyond the book form

- more-than-human epistemologies, from the ethics of knowing non-human animals to navigating affective landscapes of memory and trauma

- the role of art in the public and transnational representation particularly in the expression of Indigenous, local, national and diasporic identities

- Anthropological methods - devices and forms, silences and erasures in anthropological knowledge-making

- the ethics, material and conceptual infrastructures of expert knowledge

- the materialisation of memory, and perception of futures, through landscapes: from environmental histories to post-conflict ecologies

- ways in which people understand the self: narrative, imaginative, visual, etc.

- materialization of ideas, the ways in which people make their ideas manifest in art, stories, infrastructures.